Optimal puck sliding temperature

By Maya Schutz
Intermediate Category (Grades 9-10)
Experiment | Physics, Statistics

I play competitive girls ice hockey and I wanted to gain knowledge and a better understanding of how pucks move and slide on ice in order to excel in hockey. My hypothesis was that if I heat the puck then friction will increase, causing the puck to slow down. So, I investigated if the temperature of a puck affects the distance and speed it travels on the ice. I released and measured the distance of six pucks at three different temperatures (hot, room temperature, and cold) I accept my hypothesis, because the hot pucks which had the most friction and moved the slowest (average of 6.48 feet per second) and the shortest average distance of 35’9”. The room temperature pucks moved in between the hot and cold pucks with a speed of (average 7.15 feet per second) and an average distance of 49’6”. Last the cold pucks moved the fastest (average 8.64 feet per second) and travelled an average distance of 66’8”.

I accept my hypothesis because the heated pucks were the slowest and went the shortest distance. The frozen pucks had less friction between the rubber puck and the ice. This made them go faster and further than the room temperature pucks and the hot pucks. However, I did not expect the cold pucks to move as smoothly as they did or go as far as they did. I also did not expect that the hot pucks would make water pools on the ice and cool down so quickly when they contacted the ice. Next time I would have had four pucks for each temperature which would create a fresh puck for each of the trials. I would also do this so the ice would not have a cooling effect on the pucks. Implications of my hockey puck investigation could be applied to other rubber objects such as tires. Similar to my hockey pucks, in the winter when tires are colder, they will slide easily on icy surfaces. But if car companies had a way of making heated tires this would increase the friction between the rubber and the ice and allow the car to stop quicker . This would help society because it would lead to fewer accidents and keep people safer. This could also be helpful for the environment as cities would not need to use as much salt or sand on the roads to increase friction.

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