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Measuring Friction.

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Measuring Friction        Jamie Warburton 10S


Friction is the force which opposes motion when two objects pass each other whilst in contact. It is caused by microscopic ridges on all objects locking together. Smooth objects have less and smaller ridges than rougher objects. I am going to investigate how increasing the mass affects friction.



Weight of load


Length of string


Pulling speed


Quantity of friction

The weight of the load will affect how much friction there is because it will increase the weight force. The weight force increasing means that the block and table will be pushed together harder. Therefore, the ridges will be pushed further into each other so it will be harder to pull the block with the ridges posing more resistance.

If there are different lengths of string the friction will increase and decrease because a longer string will make it easier to pull the block and a shorter string will make it harder.

The surface will be important because there will already be more friction on a rough surface than a smooth surface. This is because the ridges, which produce friction, are larger and more frequent on a rougher surface.

The velocity of pulling will be important because if you don’t pull at a constant speed the amount of friction will not be constant.

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Mass/ g

Friction/ N







I decided to use MDF as the surface for my experiment because the others were either too high or low. I also decided to use masses ranging from 200g – 1000g, as my preliminary test from-300 – 900gappeared to be successful.

Equipment needed:

  • (10) 100g weights
  • MDF block
  • Drawing pin
  • Length of string
  • Balance
  • Scales
  • Newton meter
  1. I will begin by setting the equipment up as shown in the above diagram with a 100g mass on the block. I am going to use an MDF block because my preliminary work showed that this would probably be the best option.
  2. I will pull the block along at a constant speed with the Newton meter. I will keep the same piece of string for every result so the length is constant to keep it a fair test. I will also use the same Newton meter so there is the same degree of accuracy for all results. We must use the same strength of pulling for each test to keep it fair. I will repeatedly measure the length of the string to check that it does not move and become different from measurement to measurement. I am going to use a spring balance of 1-5 N because my preliminary work told me none of the results will go above 5N.
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This investigation indicated to me that there is a vivid relationship between the mass of a load and the force needed to pull it. It showed that friction is roughly 0.025 times the weight force or normal contact force. As you increase the weight force friction increases in the same ratio. To extend this investigation I could look at the influence of different surfaces on friction. It may also be interesting to investigate the friction on surfaces with different sized slopes. I could maybe investigate the grip of different car tyres on the road. Tyres that grip better would provide better acceleration and braking. This is because the tyres would interlock more with the microscopic ridges on the road so that it could push off more to accelerate or lock in better to brake more effectively. I could test which brand tyres take the longest to accelerate to a certain speed and stop from a certain speed whilst going at the starting from the same speed each time. The tyre that took the longest would be the least grippy and, therefore, worst tyre.

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