Reducing Friction – Skid Pan

A real-life example of the role of friction, for KS2 science This short clip explains the basics of friction using different materials. It is ideal for use as a lesson starter in KS2 science and is especially appropriate for Year 4.

A car drives round a skin-pan, and the driving instructors explain how the road and the rubber create friction to keep the car on the road. The car then drives around a wet track, with a corresponding loss of friction.

Friction is the grip between two surfaces, which tends to slow things down. If that friction is reduced when driving, the result is a skid. We visit a skid pan, where an expert driver steers a car along a wet track to demonstrate how the friction between a road tyre and a road can be reduced by a thin layer of water.

The question posed at the end is: what other road conditions might cause a loss of friction between the tyres and the road?

See the accompanying teachers’ notes by primary science adviser John Stringer for further notes explaining the science behind the problems, and sugges

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