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Science Activity (Grades 6-9) from Lessonopoly
SCIENCE FRICTION: CURLING
Objective: Simulate the game of curling to understand the force of friction.
Introduction notes for teacher:
This activity is intended for a class assignment after the viewing the NBC Learn SCIENCE FRICTION - CURLING video clip. Curling is a game much like shuffleboard, only played on ice and with much heavier stones. Each team has two stones per game to get into a target area. The inner target areas get higher point scores than outer areas. The teams alternate sending their stones to the target area with two goals: (1) get their stones into a high point target area; and (2) knock the other team’s stone out of the target area.
(1) Get a large piece of poster board. Near the middle of one end, draw four concentric circles (one inch diameter, two inch….four inch). Put a ‘4’ (four point value) in the inner circle and then successively lower points for the outer circles. This is the target. A team gets points depending on where the center of their stone ends up.
(2) Secure the target end of the poster board on a table with tape or weights.
(3) Prop up the other end of the poster board so that a curved ramp is formed on the end opposite the target. (Ring stands work here.)
(4) Use quarters (or washers of similar size and weight) as stones.
(5) Fine-tune your curling rink/lane by adjusting the propped-up end of the poster board. The stones should slide to a point just past the end of the poster board (e.g. they pass the target).
(6) Make a six-inch wide ‘launch zone’ at the top of the ramp directly opposite the target zone.
(7) Teams launch their stones by releasing their stones from the upper end of the slope, but not necessarily at the very top. They control the stone by choosing a ramp height and choosing a ‘launch zone’ position. (Use a finger to hold the stone against the ramp, then slide the finger/stone to a desired height and release position.)
(1) The height of the release point will determine the kinetic energy (KE), speed, and travel distance of the stone. Depending on the achievement level of the class, students can calculate beginning PE/KE. An estimate of ending KE and speed can be made, but friction effects may make this difficult.
(2) The collisions at the target area involve conservation of momentum. Head-on collisions result in a total (and linear) transfer of momentum from one stone to the other. (The incoming stone comes to a complete stop, while the other moves on with the same speed/direction as the first stone.)
(3) Non-head-on collisions result in a two dimensional transfer, with each stone sharing a portion of the total initial momentum. Skill at aiming the incoming stone at a target stone allows control of direction of both stones after the collision. Advanced level (physics) students should be able to draw vector diagrams to show vector addition, etc.
(1) This activity did not simulate the use of hockey brooms. A discussion might be conducted on how to introduce this idea into this activity.
(2) An investigation could be made into the scoring rules used in actual curling games. In addition, research could be made into the history of the game.
(3) An experiment could be conducted on what combination of surfaces (metal-to-cardboard was used here) will cause more or less friction.
Cautions for teacher:
(1) Using washers instead of coins may avoid the temptation for gambling (e.g. winners take all the coins.)
(2) Stones could be given a slight downward push to increase their speed. This would increase the realism in this simulation, but some students may overdo the pushing. This may put undue stress on the ramp adjustments. If such pushes are allowed, penalties could be awarded as appropriate.
Why friction is a drag: new findings
Friction is both the boon and the bane of our everyday lives. It’s the force that drags against your car’s tires, making you use more gas to keep going. It’s also the force that allows your car to stop at all: Without friction, brakes would be dead weight. Although most of us take friction for granted when we hit the stop pedal, many of its details are still a mystery.
Read more on Newsela
Coefficient of Friction,
National Science Foundation,
U.S. Army Cold Regions Lab,
Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory,
U.S. Curling Team,
Ogden Curling Club,
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