Friction Climber



We’re going to explore the external force of friction by building our own Friction Climbers.


  • Yarn/Cord
  • Scissors
  • Straw
  • Tape
  • Markers/Pens/Crayons (for decoration)
  • Paper (if you have cardstock it helps keep the character more rigid but plain paper also works!)

Project Steps

Step 1

What do you already know about friction?

Friction is the resistance of objects moving over each other.
Try rubbing your hands together! What happens? They get warm right? That’s friction at work!
Have you ever slid around in your socks? How is it different on tile or wood versus carpet?

Step 2

For more on friction, check out this “Slipping, Sliding Science!” clip by SciShow Kids on YouTube:

Step 3

Using what you know about friction, design and make your own Friction Climber with the materials you have available.

Think about the following while you’re making:

  • Are you trying to increase or decrease friction?
  • What changes do you want to make while testing your climber?
  • Does the positioning of the straw pieces affect your climber?

The next steps provide some guidance for this process.

Step 4

First, sketch out what you want your climber to look like! Try to consider the available materials as much as possible.

Step 5

If your sketch is a little messy, recreate your design on a fresh sheet of paper. Size doesn’t matter too much, but we’ve found using about ⅓ of the paper works well! Color and details to your climber.

Step 6

Pull out your scissors!

  • Cut your climber out of the paper
  • Cut two small straw pieces (0.5 – 1″)
  • Cut your yarn or cord into an approximately 2.5” piece

Step 7

Using tape, attach the two straw pieces to the back of the climber. They should be across from each other and slightly angled toward the center of the climber (see the project photo).

Step 8

Pass the yarn through each of the straw pieces and tie a sturdy knot. The loop should be at the top of the climber.

Step 9

Hook the loop to a doorknob (or another hook) and pull on the yarn underneath the climber alternating sides (left pull, right pull, left pull, etc.).

Step 10

The climber will begin to make its way up the yarn!

Troubleshooting if your climber won’t move:

  • Try adjusting the position of your straws
  • Keep your yarn/cord tight while you tug each side

Provide Some Feedback

We have a quick feedback form to fill out once you’ve done this activity. Your thoughts help us improve our projects and make sure we’re providing content that people are interested in. Let us know what you think!

To provide feedback, head to and fill out the form!

Sharing Your Project

Once you’re done, you can share a picture of your project! This is completely optional. We’ll be using these photos to create a project gallery. If you’re interested, please fill out the following form and upload a photo of your completed project.

To share your project, head to and fill out the form!

Here is a downloadable version of the activity. Please feel free to download and print this PDF!    

Daily Prompts - Friction Climbers