Resources needed:

  • Scenario cards
  • Small ball or marble
  • Tubes and ramps
  • Sandpaper
  • Fabric
  • Plastic.


  1. Ask the children to discuss with each other what they know (or think they know) about friction. Gather some of the ideas together on the board and then challenge any misconceptions.
  2. Give each child a different scenario where friction is needed/not useful. For example, cooking eggs in a frying pan, ice skating, walking to school on an icy day, driving on a wet road etc.
  3. Ask the children to move to one side of the classroom or the other – one side being ‘Friction is Good’ and the other side being ‘Friction is No Good’
  4. Make a ball run using a variety of tubes, ramps, surfaces and textures. Time how long it takes for the marble to complete the run when the surfaces provide little resistance, and then again when surface providing more friction are used.


Further Activities:

Ask the children to keep a diary as if there was no friction in the world – how would things be difficult/dangerous/impossible?

Make simple ramps from large books and send toy cars down them. Now cover one with tin foil and one with fabric or sandpaper. What do the children observe about the speed of the cars the second time?

Cut and join large elastic bands to make a giant one. Put each end around the two front legs of a chair and use it to ‘fire’ a tin of tuna across the floor. Repeat on different flooring surfaces, measuring and noting the difference distances travelled by the tin.


Curriculum Areas covered:

During years 5 and 6, pupils should be taught to use the following practical scientific methods, processes and skills through the teaching of the programme of study content:

  • planning different types of scientific enquiries to answer questions, including recognising and controlling variables where necessary
  • taking measurements, using a range of scientific equipment, with increasing accuracy and precision, taking repeat readings when appropriate
  • recording data and results of increasing complexity using scientific diagrams and labels, classification keys, tables, scatter graphs, bar and line graphs
  • using test results to make predictions to set up further comparative and fair tests
  • reporting and presenting findings from enquiries, including conclusions, causal relationships and explanations of and degree of trust in results, in oral and written forms such as displays and other presentations
  • identifying scientific evidence that has been used to support or refute ideas or arguments.

They should use and develop keys and other information records to identify, classify and describe living things and materials, and identify patterns that might be found in the natural environment.

(Y5) Pupils should be taught to:

  • identify the effects of air resistance, water resistance and friction, that act between moving surfaces


Teaching point: Children must understand that friction is a force which acts on two surfaces which move, or try to move, across each other.