Imagine Life without Friction

Students are introduced to the concept of inertia and its application to a world without the force of friction acting on moving objects. When an object is in motion, friction tends to be the force that acts on this object to slow it down and eventually come to a stop. By severely limiting friction through the use of hover pucks, students learn that the energy of one moving puck is transferred directly to another puck at rest when they collide. Students learn the concept of the conservation of energy via a "collision," and come to realize that with friction, energy is converted primarily to heat to slow and stop an object in motion. In the associated activity, "The Puck Stops Here," students investigate the frictional force of an object when different materials are placed between the object and the ground. They apply this understanding to the challenge to design a new hockey puck for the National Hockey League.