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Air Stream

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See how the foam shapes hover. They are being blown up by air and so move very easily. Can you move the shapes without touching them?

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Forces

What's Happening?

Air streams blowing up from the table are strong enough to lift the foam objects, creating a layer of air between the foam shapes and the table. This means that there is very little friction between the shapes and the table, so the shapes are free to move around. Some of the air streams are pointed in certain directions, pushing the shapes along the paths. Use the yellow plastic pieces to direct and change the path of the foam shapes

Why is ice slippery?

Similarly to our air table, ice is slippery because there is so little friction. Ice is covered in a thin layer of water, which reduces the friction between the ice and whatever is pressing down on it. However, scientists are still uncertain as to how this water layer forms – is it due to the heat of friction melting the ice as you walk? Or does ice naturally have a layer of liquid water on its surface?

Try this

Build your own...

The same principles explained here to power a hovercraft, creating a cushion of air to allow the vehicle to hover over different surfaces (including water!). Click here to learn how to make your own mini hovercraft

Exhibits like this

Nearby exhibits

Look Closer

Welcome to Look Closer, Techniquest's brand new digital tool. We're trialling Look Closer as a way of offering you a closer look at the science demonstrated by many of our exhibits. You'll find visitor sheets, videos, articles on contemporary science as well as fun trails to navigate your way around the exhibition space.

Speak to our Science Communicators to find out more.