An investigation into friction, told through the animated story of Rapunzel. Rapunzel makes a slide to help her escape from the tower and predicts that, when wearing her pink dress, she will be able to slide down the plank of wood in five seconds. The investigation covers the importance of prediction, fair testing and repeating any measurements taken.

First broadcast:
5 March 2008

Students could be asked to consider how Rapunzel ensured she conducted a fair test when investigating how quickly she could slide down her escape chute. They could also discuss why the prince had to wear Rapunzel’s pink dress and why this was an important part of the investigation. They should note that changing the dress and the material may have created different levels of friction which would affect sliding time.

Challenge students to develop an alternative escape plan for Rapunzel, and design a parachute which she could use to float down from her tower. Using a test doll and a tower of books or a cabinet, students could investigate one variable of parachute design such as material, length of string, size of canopy or weight. Students could follow Rapunzel’s example of how to conduct a fair test. They could use their results to discuss how each of these is affected by air resistance and conclude which is the optimum parachute design.