Question

:
How does the coefficient of static friction of a running shoe’s rubber sole on a wooden board compare to that of a skateboard shoe’s rubber sole on the same board?

Hypothesis:
It was predicted that the coefficient of static friction for a running a shoe (which must find traction on a variety of surfaces) would be higher than that of a skateboard shoe (which is able to find traction on the rough surface of a skateboard deck).

Materials:
Metre Stick Wooden Inclined Plane Running Shoe Skateboard Shoe Calculator

Procedure:
After obtaining the required materials, a work area was set up to provide ample room for the procedure. The length of the wooden board was measured, using a metre stick, and recorded. With one lab partner holding the top edge of the wooden board, a running show was placed onto the board’s surface. The board was slowly lifted from one side, creating a gradually-increasing incline, while the other side was held on the surface of the counter. Once the incline reached a point where the running shoe began to slightly move forward, the inclination was abruptly stopped and the wooden board was held in place. Using a metre stick, the height of the board at this point was measured and used, with the measured length of the board, to calculate the angle of inclination. These steps were repeated twice more, with the height of the board calculated each time the shoe began to move. The measured heights and calculated angles were recorded in a table. The second portion of the procedure required the running shoe to be replaced with a skateboard shoe. The exact same steps were followed for testing the skateboard shoe as were followed for testing the running shoe.

Observations:
The length of the wooden board was measured to be 125.2cm. The angles of inclination at which the running shoe began to slide down the wooden board were consistent, averaging 38.9°. The angles of inclination at which the skateboard shoe began to slide down the wooden board were also consistent, averaging 28.5°. Refer to Figures 1

a) and b) for a table containing the measured heights of the wooden board at which point the force of static friction (Ff) acting upon each shoe was directly proportional to that of gravity (Fg).

Figure 1 a) Running Shoe: Height of Inclined Plane at which Fg ∝ Ff
Trial 1 2 3 Average Height of Inclined Plane (cm) 74.00 80.00 82.00 78.67

Figure 1 b) Skateboard Shoe: Height of Inclined Plane at which Fg ∝ Ff
Trial 1 2 3 Average Height of Inclined Plane (cm) 57.50 57.97 63.00 59.49

Refer to Figures 2 a) and b) for the calculated angles of inclination at which point the force of static friction (Ff) acting upon each shoe was directly proportional to that of gravity (Fg).

Figure 2 a) Running Shoe: Angle of Inclination at which Fg ∝ Ff
Trial 1 2 3 Average Angle (°) 36.2 39.7 40.9 38.9

Figure 2 b) Skateboard Shoe: Angle of Inclination at which Fg ∝ Ff
Trial Angle (°)

1 2 3 Average

27.3 28.1 30.2 28.5

The obtained values for the coefficient of static friction were consistent throughout the skateboard shoe trials, averaging 0.54. A less consistent range of values was observed for the coefficient of static friction calculated from the running shoe trials. Refer to Figures 3 a) and b) for the calculated coefficients of friction for each trial.

Figure 3 a) Running Shoe: Coefficient of Static Friction (μs)
Trial 1 2 3 Average μs 0.732 0.830 0.866 0.809

Figure 3 b) Skateboard Shoe: Coefficient of Static Friction (μs)
Trial 1 2 3 Average μs 0.516 0.534 0.582 0.544

Calculations:
To determine the angle of inclination of the inclined plane at various heights, the o formula θ = s i − 1n , where o represents the measured height of the incline at the point just h before the shoe began to slide and h represents the hypotenuse (fixed length) of the inclined plane, was used. For example, the angle of inclination for the first trial of the running shoe was determined: ( 7 c4 m ) θ = s i − 1n ( 1 2. 2 c 5 m ) θ = 3 . 26 ° This process was used to determine each angle of inclination from each trial.

The coefficient of static friction was calculated using the following formula: c oθ s µ = s i θn The ratio of cosine to sine was identified as representing a tangent value; therefore the formula for finding the coefficient of static friction was determined to be: µ = t a θ n , where theta represents the calculated angle of inclination of the inclined plane. Using this formula, the coefficient of static friction for each trial of both shoes, where µ s s represents the coefficient of static friction of the skateboard shoe and µ s r represents the coefficient of static friction of the running shoe, was found. For example, the coefficient of static friction for the initial trial of each shoe was determined:

µ s s= t a θ n µ s s = t a 2n . 37( ) µ s s= 0 .5 1 6

µ s r= t a θn µ s r = t a 3n . 26( ) µ s r = 0 .7 3 2

Analysis:
The running shoe began to slide down the wooden board at a steeper incline than the skateboard shoe did. The coefficient of static friction of the running shoe was about 49% greater than that of the skateboard shoe, a difference of 0.265. This was almost certainly due to the tread patterns on the sole of each shoe. The running shoe had a series of thick rigid treads on its sole, whereas the skateboard shoe had small wave-like treads on its sole. The significance of these features is largely due to the purpose of the shoes. A running shoe is designed to keep traction regardless of the surface that it is on – be it gravel, asphalt, tile, grass, etc. A skateboard shoe is designed to work with the surface (or deck) of a skateboard, which is coated in a rough material. Although friction is necessary for a skateboarder to stay on the skateboard, it also reduces the amount of tricks a skateboarder is able to do – thus a skateboard shoe is designed to produce the ideal amount of friction for a skateboarder to stay on his/or board without forfeiting the ability to do tricks. As previously stated, there was an unusually large inconsistency concerning the calculated coefficient of static friction for each trial of the running shoe. The highest calculated coefficient of static friction for the running shoe trials was 0.866, 0.134 off of the lowest calculated coefficient. Although this difference seems small, when compared to the consistency of the calculated coefficient of static friction for the skateboard shoe (a range of only 0.066), 0.134 is a large difference in values. The reason for these large differences could easily be a simple human error. Most likely, when the running shoe was placed onto the wooden board, it was placed in a different spot each time (or placed at a different angle in relation to the board). The reason for completing three trials for each shoe was to produce results that were as accurate as possible. Aside from one instance, there was a high degree of consistency in all obtained measurements – therefore producing an average, highlyaccurate result. If only one trial were done for each shoe, several aspects would not have

been accounted for. For example, there would be no comparative analysis of the values for the measurements of the height of the board. This would mean a large source of error (i.e. lifting the board too fast) would be unnoticed but would still produce a completely inaccurate result.

Evaluation:
While performing this lab, there was a variety of possible sources of error that could have occurred. The first possible source of error was the inconsistency of the wooden board’s surface, which may have caused the friction to be inconsistent on different parts of the board. Another possible source of error was the rate at which the board was raised during the tests: if it was too fast the exact point at which the shoe moved would not have been determined as accurately. The steadiness of a person’s arm while measurements were being gathered would also affect the accuracy of the measurements. The age of a shoe would also affect the coefficient of friction (worn rubber soles have less grip than new ones), especially when concerning a comparative analysis of two separate shoes. A few of these errors could be reduced by using a board that has been sanded, which would ensure an even surface throughout. Another way to reduce the attained errors would be to try and raise the board at as consistent a speed as possible. This would ensure that the point at which the shoe begins to move is determined accurately. Having two shoes of similar age and wear would reduce the possible sources of error that occur due to the differences in the shoes.

Conclusion:
As predicted, the coefficient of static friction between a wooden board and the rubber sole of a running shoe was larger than the coefficient of static friction between a wooden board and the rubber sole of a skateboard shoe. The calculated average coefficient of static friction between the wooden board and the running shoe was 0.809. The calculated average coefficient of static friction between the wooden board and the skateboard shoe was 0.544. The coefficient of static friction of the running shoe was about 49% greater than that of the skateboard shoe, a difference of 0.265.

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