Physics Laboratory 5

Measuring the coefficients of static and kinetic friction

In this lab you will measure the coefficient of static and the coefficient of kinetic friction for a wood block and a felt-covered block in contact with a metal track.  A force sensor is mounted on a cart which is attached to the block.  The force sensor measures the applied force.  The mass of the block, cart, and sensor is given in the video clip.

Part I

Find the coefficient of static friction.

You will examine two video clips.  By stepping through these clips frame by frame you will determine the applied force needed to overcome the force of static friction.  As the magnitude of the applied force becomes greater than the magnitude of the maximum force of static friction the blocks will accelerate.  Using  fs(max) = μsN and N = mg, you will determine μs for the wood block and the felt-covered block.


bulletTo step through video clips frame-by-frame click the buttons below.  The "Video Analysis" web page will open.


bulletConstruct a table as shown below.
surface fs(max) (N) mass (kg) normal force (N) c. of static friction μs

Part II

Find the coefficient of kinetic friction.

You will examine two video clips.  You will determine the  position of the block in each clip as a function of time by stepping through the video clip frame-by-frame and by reading the time and the position coordinates of the block off each frame.  You will construct a spreadsheet with columns for time and position and use this spreadsheet to find the velocity as a function of time.  The slope of a velocity versus time graph yields the acceleration of the block.  The force sensor measures the applied force and the mass of the accelerating object is given in the video clip.  Using Ftotal = ma and Ftotal = Fapplied - fk you will determine the force of kinetic friction fk.  The coefficient of kinetic friction μk can then be found from fk = μkN.


bulletTo play the video clip or to step through it frame-by-frame click the "Begin" button.  The "Video Analysis" web page will open.  Choose the friction_3.mp4 and the friction_4.mp4 video clips.


For each video clip:

bulletPlay the video clip and return it to frame 0.
bulletIn the setup window choose to track the x-coordinate of one object.
bulletCalibrate your data as described in lab 1.
bulletHighlight and copy your data table.  Open Microsoft Excel, and paste the table into an Excel spreadsheet.
Your spreadsheet will have two columns, time (s) and  x (m).  Produce a graph of position (vertical axis) versus time (horizontal axis).  Label the axes.
bulletRight-click the data and choose "Add Trendline".  Choose Polynomial, Order 2. and under options click "Display equation on chart".  An equation of the form y = b1x2 + b2 x + b3 will be displayed where b1, b2, and b3 are numbers.
bulletFor motion with constant acceleration the position varies with time as x = x0 + v0t + (1/2)at2.  Since we are plotting x versus t, the number b1 is the best estimate for a/2 from the fit.  Therefore the value of the acceleration determined from the fit is a = 2b1.
bulletFind the acceleration of the block in each clip.
bulletConstruct a table as shown below.
surface acceleration (m/s2) Ftotal (N) Fapplied (N) fk (N) normal force (N) c. of kinetic friction μk

Open Microsoft Word and prepare a report using the template shown below.

E-mail address:

Laboratory 5 Report


In one or two sentences state the goal of this lab. 


Insert your tables.


Compare the coefficients of static and kinetic friction for the two surfaces.  Comment on your results.  Do they make sense?

bulletHow good do you think are your results?  What factors do you think may be responsible for the largest uncertainties?

Save your Word document (your name_lab5.docx), go to Blackboard, Assignments, Lab 5, and attach your document.