Speed and Velocity!

It’s West Michigan. It’s 26 degrees. We’ve had continuous snowfall for many days and more to come. What better conditions to bundle up, grab our sleds & speedometer app and head to the dunes at Lake Michigan to learn about SPEED & VELOCITY!? Check out the video below if you need a refresher on what the difference is between the two.

Here’s what happened. Yes it is cold outside. Of course, we know the winds coming off the lake are stronger than at our home a half mile away. We were not expecting THAT kind of frigid wind. It made our experiments faster and more focused. Run up, sled down…Run back up, sled back down… is it getting faster or slower? Does the velocity increase with 12 year old Lucy on the sled vs. 8 year old, Olive on it (yes!). Does turning mid-run increase the rate of speed (no!). Does adding a very slippery recycle bag to the bottom of the sled make the run faster? (Big no here – we didn’t have board wax to use, and as you might imagine, a bag is no substitute for decreasing the friction!). The head winds coming off the lake were whipping… slowing us down. After 7 runs in what we call the “medium” dune bowl, we moved to the ever, “big bowl” to try one last time.

The photos don’t do that hill justice. Up on top, you can see an amazing distance. Looking down, it is daunting. Mid-ride, it is nothing short of intense. Fearless Lucy took to the hill, speedometer turned on and in place and shoved off! Down she went like a rocket. We captured her rate of speed at 30 kph which is equal to 18.64 Mph. Yes we learned about velocity. We learned more about the coefficient of friction, about surface weight and  how it affects inertia. We also learned that next time we go, we should grab our HELMETS!

Happy Winter wherever you are!



This was Lucy’s first run….
Second run with turns.
Olive’s run on the same as Lucy’s first. 



The final run!!!


And one with a SONG :0)


4 thoughts on “Speed and Velocity!

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