Science Lab: Which shoe would be best for rock climbing?

This is the very first lab I complete with my Earth Science students.  

  1. The best rock climbing shoe lab

  2. Description

    • In this lab students get together to try and discover which shoe in groups have the best rock climbing ability and then we discuss their conclusions and try to find out which person in the entire class has the best shoe for rock climbing.

    • Time: 55 minutes

      • Time will depend on how your discussion goes and whether or not the groups got into the experiment and did multiple tests.

  3. Show 11 Year Old Girl Shatters Climbing Records

    • This video shows an 11 year old girl make very difficult climbs.  I like showing this video just before the lab because I think it demonstrates the importance of effort, never giving up, and if you fail, as long as you continue there is no problem in it.



  4. Instructions for students

    • Design an experiment in groups of four.  Find out which student in your group has the shoe that would be the best for rock climbing.

    • Your experiment needs to contain:

      • A question

      • A Hypothesis

      • The characteristics of each shoe in your experiment.

      • Written observations of multiple trial.

      • A conclusion based on the results of your experiment.

  5. Discuss with the class why different shoes have better traction than other.  At the end of the lab I have the students from each group that has the best rock climbing shoe and I ask them how their group determined which shoe was the best.  Then I take their ideas and conclusion and try to discover which group had a student with the best shoe grip.

  6. My Thoughts:

    • It is amazing to me that High School students have gotten this far without having to really try to design their own experiment.  I have come to the conclusion that many teachers give their students all of the information and instructions to complete a lab.  This lab is designed to see where they are in their own abilities to think and to reason.  Finding which shoe in the class has the most traction is actually irrelevant.  The importance of this lab is to discover whether or not students can organize themselves, make multiple trials, come up with multiple observations, and develop an accurate conclusion based on their evidence that they gathered.

    • You will find that some groups won’t even take off their shoes to run their tests.  Some groups will try and finish as quick as possible without accurate results and without gathering any data.  I usually have to send them back to the drawing board multiple times.

    • As this is usually the first lab I do of the year, and groups are assigned randomly, I have each of them introduce themselves before the lab begins.  Being the first full class, this lesson is a great get to know you lab as well.