You can tell right away that if you are trying to walk here after a rain or crashing waves, you're going to have a bad day. According to the sign, your hands will fly up in the air, and your feet will disappear! All because the amount of friction (grip) between your feet and the boards has reduced.
Banana Peel Slip, Episode 116.
Just how slippery is a banana peel? Slippery enough to kill you? To find out, the Mythbusters, well, step on a lot of banana peels. And slide around on some very special slime. Wearing safety gear the whole time, of course.
The Mythbusters used hundreds of banana peels for their experimenting. Here is what bananas look like growing on a banana plant, before they give up their fruit and peel for science. The giant red thing below them is a flower.
Friction is the amount of grip that exists between two objects that are touching (like your feet and the sidewalk). If what you are walking on feels slippery, that means that there is not a lot of friction between your feet and the sidewalk. Click on the words to the left to get to a page with information about friction. You will use this information to answer questions on the handout below.
For racing, it all comes down to how well the driver can control their car at high speeds. That means having the right kind of tire for the type of track they are on is extremely important. To have enough friction between the tires and the asphalt track shown here, the tires need to be flat and smooth; such tires are called racing slicks.
Off-road racing requires a completely different type of tire. You can see in the picture that the terrain is extremely rough, being covered with rocks. Having a knobby tire increases friction between the tire and the surface, because the knobs on the tire can fit around the rocks. However, if these tires were put on a smooth track, there would be lots of sliding and skidding, as a large part of the tire would not be in contact with the asphalt. Similarly, a smooth tire on this rough terrain would not work terribly well either.
For this lab, you'll be using some pretty weird stuff: a scouring pad, a sponge, a sticky caterpillar toy, a rubber ball, a ball covered with suction cups, a marble, and a toy car. This will provide you with some interesting surfaces to test for varying amounts of friction.