Thinking Fountain image (17k)Thinking Fountain text (10k)


Experiment with friction

Vollis Simpson is an artist who creates kinetic sculptures and whirligigs. He uses bearings in all of his spinning pieces so that they move smoothly. The experiment below is a nice introduction to friction and bearings.

Vollis explains how he uses bearings.

Bearing model (24k)
Watch it spin. (1MB)

Try experimenting with bearings.

You'll need:

  • soup can (empty or full)
  • marbles (about 12)
  • pencil
  • plasticine clay
  • lid that fits over bottom of soup can

One (3k) Add balls of clay to ends of pencil.

Two (3k) Attach pencil to lid with clay.

Three (3k) Place lid on can. How well does it spin?

Four (3k) Remove lid and place marbles on can.

Five (3k) Replace the lid and spin again. What changed?

To find more helpful tidbits from teachers for understanding
scientific concepts, see the Science Props cluster.

Science Props (9k)
That makes me think . . . (11k)
What would happen if you used more or less marbles? What if you substituted ping pong balls for marbles? or BB's? Take a closer look a bicycle wheel - can you guess where the bearings are? Visit a local artist who creates kinetic sculptures or whirligigs.

Yellow dot (9k) Machines

Book cover (9k)

Yellow dot (9k) Make a spinning toy

Yellow dot (9k) Blades have bearings

Gathered by topic
Mind maps (9k)
Connected together
A to Z button (9k)
Index of ideas

Science Learning Network / ©1996 Science Museum of Minnesota