Do Try This At Home | Friction Ramps

Make a ramp to test the effect of friction.

We're a curious bunch and we know you are too.

Our building is closed right now, but that doesn't mean we can't play around and do some experimenting at home.

I've been having a look around my house to create some simple activities and experiments you can do at home. 

This one is about friction!



At home! Your kitchen worktop or living room carpet...

Who for



Have you ever tried to ride a scooter or a skateboard along a bumpy road? Was it easy or hard?

You might have noticed that it's easier to roll fast on some surfaces. There's something that slows you down. It's called friction. 


Let's make an experiment to test friction!

We are going to:

  • build a ramp
  • roll something down it

  • see how far it rolls

  • do some testing 

You will need

1. Something with wheels. We used a toy car, but you can use anything that rolls! 

2. A ramp (build your own). We made a ramp out of cardboard, books and a chopping board, but you can do it however you like!

3. Two or more different surfaces in your home. Maybe your living room has a carpet and your kitchen counter is made from plastic?

4. Something to measure with. Maybe a tape measure, ruler, or you can just use something like the length of your hand.

5. Paper and a pen/pencil. To write down your results.





1. Build your ramp

What are you going to make your ramp out of?

How steep are you going to make it? Are you going to make it big or small?

2. Test your ramp

Put the car at the top of the ramp and let it go.



The car will speed up as it rolls down the ramp.

How far does the car go along the floor?


Get curious!

Now it's your turn to do some testing.

Have a competition to see how you can make the car go the furthest.

Some ideas for you to test:

  • angle of the slope
  • shape of slope (straight or curved)
  • what your slope is made out of 
  • the weight of your car
  • the type of car

Find a place to write down your results. 


Testing friction

When I did this experiment, I was interested in how different surfaces would change how far my plane rolled after the ramp.

Here's a photo of the experiment with a tea towel under the ramp.


If you do test friction, have a think about these questions…

  • Which surface was bumpier?

  • Which surface did the car go further on?

  • Does friction speed things up or slow things down?

  • Which surface had more friction?

Luis age 10, asked us:

What if there were hovercars?

Would a hovercar be slowed down by friction? Would anything else slow it down?


Share your experiment

Let us know how you got on on our social media!

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And if you enjoyed this activity, why not try our others in this series?


Top image credit: Paul Blakemore

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