What a Drag! (Friction)
SPIRIT Lesson Building Block Template
Author: Yvette McCulley
Grade: Grades 7 - 8
Date: 1 August, 2006
About SPIRIT Lessons: This is a sample Lesson developed within the SPIRIT Project to help students examine mathematics concepts related to angles, speed, and graphing. SPIRIT lessons are currently in "building block" format, which is in
essence an educational activity that might be later turned into a more formal classroom lesson by a creative teacher. These SPIRIT “lesson building blocks” will soon be up on the web for the potential use by teachers as they prepare more formal educational lessons using the TekBot robotics platform.
I. Concepts (Give a list of one or more concepts that might be taught using this activity)
• Students will be able to create a
researchable question using the
TekBot as a major focus for the
question. An example would be –
―Will the surface texture of a ramp
impact the TekBot‘s ability to
negotiate the incline?‖
• Students will be familiarized with
science processes. Students will be
able to write an experiment using
the TekBot. The students will then
―run‖ the experiment, collect the
data, analyze the data and make
recommendations for further study.
II. Standards: (Standards for Technological Literacy) In grades 6–8 all students should—
• Use mathematical models to represent and understand quantitative relationships
• Analyze change in various contexts
• Use visualization, spatial reasoning, and geometric modeling to solve
• Formulate questions that can be addressed with data and collect, organize, and display relevant data to answer them
• Compute fluently and make reasonable estimates
Abilities of Technological Design
• Identify appropriate problems for Technological Design
• Design a Solution
• Implement a Proposed design
• Evaluate Completed Technological Designs or Products
• Communicate the Process of Technological Design
Scientific inquiry and technological design have similarities and differences.
. Many different people in different cultures have made and continue to
make contributions to science and technology.
. Science and technology are reciprocal.
. Perfectly designed solutions do not exist.
. Technological designs have constraints.
. Technological solutions have intended benefits and unintended
III. Learning Activity Context (Describe the overall context for the learning activity)
Abstract: All 7th and 8th grade students are expected to participate in the School-wide Annual Science Fair occurring in the months of September through December. In September, teachers will go to each science classroom and expose students to the possible International Categories. Students will then select the category where they would like to work. In the past, the students have not had an easy time developing questions in the areas of mathematics, engineering and computers. We are planning to introduce the TekBot and the Scribbler as‖ vehicles‖ to be used in these three categories. We are hopeful that
this technology will be used to create inquiry questions that lend themselves to investigation for the Science Fair. The Science Fair categories that will lend themselves to the use of the already assembled TekBot include: Engineering, Computer Science, Physics, and Mathematics.
IV. Teacher and Student Suggestions/Tips
• Make sure the TekBot is fully charged prior to arrival in the classrooms.
• Demonstrate the following ―possibilities‖ for TekBot movement…moving in
different directions, moving on different surfaces, moving on inclines, moving with sensor applications (This will be done in ―all team level meetings‖ in September.)
• Facilitate a discussion of ―I wonder what would happen if…‖starters that could
be used as Science Fair questions.
V. Teacher Questions
(Give a list of questions that teachers might ask students during the activity)
Would this question be a research paper or an investigation? Only select questions that have the investigation component for further work in preparing for the Science Fair.
Some Specific Questions Might Be:
• What is the name of the force which always opposes the motion?
• There are two types of ‗Friction‘; static friction and sliding friction. What
is the difference between them?
• Look up the definition of ‗coefficient of friction‘.
• As the ramp gets steeper, is there an angle at which the TekBot ‗stalls
• If you wanted to get technical, you might find the ‗tangent‘ of the ‗stall
angle‘ and then compare it to the ‗coefficient of friction‘. How do they
compare? How would you find the ‗coefficient of friction‘ in this example?
Is this a ‗special case‘ where the ‗frictional force‘ and the ‗component of
the weight of the robot‘ are equal?
VI. Assessment Ideas
(Give an idea or two about how the lesson activity might be assessed)
• Science Fair Log (Engineering Notebook Format)
• Science Fair Project Board (22 – 45 minute lessons)
• Science Fair Judging Criteria
VII. Other Information
(Give any other information that might be useful or a visual or two)
We have 8 TekBots for student use. We also have Robotix kits that can be used. We hope to get the Lego robots in the future.
You may view a movie which exists on the ‗CEEN‘ site which shows a TekBot
driving on a table. To begin with, the table is horizontal and then inclined. You can see the robot ‗stall‘ as the force generated by the robot is matched by the gravitational component. There are a couple of thumbtacks stuck in the tires so you may see that the wheels are turning.
http://ceen.unomaha.edu/ > TekBots > Middle and Hi School > 2006 Workshop
Materials > Video Tutorial clips > Roger and his TekBot
VIII. A materials list (suggested)
• Various robots
• Stop Watches
• Measuring Tapes
• Markers (erasable)
• Masking Tape for Marking the Paths
* Rubber Bands
• Boards for the Ramps
• Books – ( or something to block one end of the ramp)
• Spring Scale (to measure the force pulled by the TekBot)
• Various Materials to Fit the Creative Minds
Expected results: Possible science fair topics
Independent Dependent Topic or Question Variable Variable Engineering What is the best material for TekBot tires? Tire Covers Frictional Force How temperature affects TekBot speed. Temperature Speed How temperature affects battery power. Temperature Battery Power What is the efficiency of the TekBot? Energy Input Energy Output Designing a TekBot tractor pull sled. Distance Pulling Force Computer Science Digital logic in the TekBot controller. Digital Input Digital Output
Physics Demonstrate Newton's Laws Force Acceleration How can frictional force be changed? Materials Frictional Force
Mathematics A TekBot random walk. Random Values Final Location
Materials testing Design testing
Building a device
Force and motion
Demonstrate Newton's Laws Friction using different angles and surfaces