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Lab #4: Friction

Robin Vo
Lab Partner: Suzanne Acton
TA: Meera Gurung

The purpose of this experiment was to investigate the variables
that influence static and kinetic friction. Friction is the contact force
between two forces when two surfaces are sliding relative to each
other. During this lab, two types of friction were observed, static
friction and kinetic friction. Static friction is when two surfaces are not
yet moving relative to each other. To observe static friction, a wooden
block with a string tied to it was laid on a metal track, and on the
opposite end of the string was a mass to which more mass could have
been added to it. Mass was added to the hanging mass until the metal
block began to slide on the metal track. The other type of friction that
was studied during this experiment was kinetic friction. Kinetic friction
is a force that does not prevent motion, but hinders the motion. In
order to observe kinetic friction, the metal track used in the first
experiment was put at on incline that was increased until the wooden
block slid down the track. This experiment was repeated on two faces
of the wooden block, one wider side and one side half of the width. We
can conclude that the coefficient of static friction decreased when
more mass was added to the wooden block and the mass hanging at
the end of the string. The coefficient of kinetic friction increased as the
incline of the metal track increased.

During this lab, we observed static friction and kinetic friction in
action. For the largest coefficients of static and kinetic friction, which
were 0.216 and 0.212 respectively, were very similar in magnitude.
This similarity in magnitude could have been due to the fact that both
of the coefficients of friction were obtained when the wooden block did
not have any added mass on it. When measuring the coefficient of
static friction, the magnitude of the coefficient of static friction was
decreasing when more mass was added to the wooden block itself. The
coefficient of kinetic friction for both the smaller surface and the larger
surface area both increased as the inclined increased. For both of the
surface areas at 9, 10, and 11 had the same coefficient of kinetic
friction, which means that surface area does not affect the coefficient
of static friction. For both coefficients of static friction and kinetic
friction, whenever a variable was increased, i.e. mass or inclination
angle, the magnitudes of the coefficients also increased.
Some sources of error could include the way the masses were
added onto the hanging mass. At times, the masses were not added as
gently onto the hanging mass as they may have been previously,
which could have affected how why the block was sliding at a much
lower hanging mass than on other trials. For the kinetic friction
experiments, the inclination of the metal track may not have stayed
the same when the block was sliding, i.e. it may have increased or
decreased, which could have caused slight deviations in the data.