Middle School

Both of these two middle school science fair projects deal with the device known as the inclined plane – you may know it as a ramp.

What we are testing is what makes things go faster or slower down the inclined plane. Read about friction and lubrication before doing these experiments in order to fully understand how they work.

 

Project #1:
Best Lubricants




These middle school science projects test which of five lubricants works best on metal. You can extend it to include whatever other lubricants you want to try.

MATERIALS:

    • 5 ml vegetable oil
    • 5ml water
    • 5ml baby oil
    • 5ml liquid hand soap
    • 4 paint brushes
    • baking sheet
    • small brick or steel block
    • stack of books or other object roughly 1-2 feet tall
    • stopwatch

 

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Come up with your hypothesis – which of the four lubricants will make the brick slide fastest?

2. Prop up the baking sheet in such a way that it is at roughly a 45º angle. The precise angle is not important, as long as it is the same for all trials.

3. Do the first trial with no lubricant. Place the brick at the top of the baking sheet, then begin the stopwatch when you let go. Stop the stopwatch when the brick hits the bottom. Record the time.

4. Use the paintbrushes to coat the baking sheet with one of the lubricants. Make sure not to mix brushes – one brush for each lubricant.

5. Repeat the trial, making sure that the brick is placed at the same spot it was the first time.

6. After you record the time for this trial, thoroughly wash and dry the baking sheet. Make sure there is no lubricant left before going on to the next trial.

7. Repeat steps 4-6 with each lubricant

8. Which one worked the best? Was your hypothesis confirmed?

 

 

Project #2: Sledding Variables




These middle school science fair projects apply the same variables to a real-world situation: sledding. Sledding can sometimes be dangerous, so exercise caution and be responsible when doing this science fair project.

MATERIALS:

    • Sled
    • A partner
    • Bathroom scale
    • 2-3 different sledding hills
    • fresh snow
    • stopwatch
    • tape measure
    • string

 

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Begin by learning about your hills. Use Google Earth or a surveyor’s map to find out the elevation at the crest of the hill and the elevation at the bottom. Use this to calculate the average slope of the hill.

2. Weigh yourself and your partner. Write down the weights on your data sheet.

3. When you are on your first hill, mark the spot where you will begin and end your run. Lay string down on the length of that run, then use your tape measure to work out how much string you have used. This will tell you the full length of your sledding run.

4. Start the stopwatch when you push off. Stop it when you come to rest at the bottom. Write down the length of time that it took you, then use that to calculate your speed

5. Repeat the trial with the partner. Calculate your speed this time.

6. Repeat steps 3-5 for each of the three hills.

7. Graph your data, showing how speed was affected by both the weight of the people on the sled and by the slope of the hill.

8. Which variable affected your speed the most? Weight or slope?

*TIP: These middle school science fair projects can also be used to test different kinds of sleds. Do runner sleds work better than toboggans? How about going down the hill on a surfboard? What happens then?

 

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