Creating Warmth with Friction

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Students will be able to investigate materials and actions that may produce heat through friction.

Big Idea

Students will determine if non-living things can produce heat through friction.


1 minutes

Warm Up

10 minutes

I will begin the lesson by asking students to share a time when they were unprepared to be outdoors in cold weather. I will prompt the students to describe how their body felt in that situation.

Next, I will show the students a picture of a man on an iceberg without wearing gloves. I will ask students to think of what the man in the picture could do to warm up in that particular environment. I will allow the students an opportunity to share their responses as well as their own personal experiences. 

I will ask students to share what they do to warm their hands when they do not have mittens or gloves. After students share rubbing their hands together, I will ask the students to share their thoughts on why their hands warm up when they are rubbed together. I will encourage intellectual risk taking by accepting all reasonable answers such as your hands have blood in them and blood is warm. 

Before beginning the exploration section of the lesson, I will inquire with the students, does rubbing nonliving things together create warmth? How can we check if our idea is correct? What variables do we need to consider when testing out our theory? Do both objects need to be the same? How might rubbing two similar objects together be different than rubbing two different objects together? I will share with the students, that this is exactly what we are going to be testing in this lesson.


25 minutes

I will begin the exploration section of the lesson by distributing different materials to pairs of  students. Each pair will receive chopsticks, craft sticks, an eraser, and paper. I will inform students that they will use these materials to investigate which objects produce heat through friction. I will prompt students to identify different variables such as the speed of which materials are rubbed together and the length of time materials are rubbed together.  I will instruct students to record their observational data in their science journals when testing and comparing each material.

Wrap Up

10 minutes

To conclude the lesson, students will transition to the carpet with their science journals. I will ask students to think about the original question: Does rubbing nonliving things together create warmth? I will encourage students to review their data to determine which materials and actions produced heat through friction. I will ask students to make an inference about materials and actions that are needed to produce heat through friction? Lastly, I will encourage students to share if any of the data surprised them as they conducted their experiment.