The Physics of Sledding

What better method to learn physics than flying down a hill on a sled! Upper School students in Tara Tsakraklides’ science class took advantage of the recent major snowfall for a hands-on activity called “The Physics of Sledding.” The goal was to use data collected from the field to find the coefficient of friction of different types of sleds.

After gathering their snow gear, sleds and saucers, the class head outside to the hill by the softball field, a beloved sledding spot for the Moses Brown community and neighborhood alike . Before they begin, they measure the distance from the top to the bottom of the hill. One student walks down the hill using a wheel meter to measure the distance (and thankfully doesn’t slip!).

 

“What do we have for distance?”  Tara shouts from the top of the hill.

“27.25 meters!” he exclaims back.

Now that they have their distance, another variable they need will be the time it takes to slide down, which will be measured by a stopwatch. They will also use the angle of the hill of 30 degrees in their calculations to ultimately determine the sled’s acceleration speed.

One by one, students launch themselves down the steep hill while recording data and having a blast while doing it.

After all the students have had their chance to sled, Tara herself bravely slides down the hill, receiving a lively round of applause from her class above. Students aren’t the only ones who get to enjoy the snow!

Check out some of the footage of “Physics of Sledding” in action!