Observations and results
Did the Slinky do the greatest number of flips on its walk down the inclined plane when it was at a 15-degree angle? Did the Slinky travel fastest down the inclined plane when it was at a 25-degree angle?
Gravity and its own momentum keep the Slinky moving down the inclined plane, and these forces are related to how the Slinky behaves when traveling at different angles. When the Slinky walks down something relatively steep, such as the inclined plane at a 25-degree angle compared with the 15-degree slope, the Slinky should travel faster as gravity pulls it downward. Depending on the exact conditions, this may take about one third of the time that the Slinky requires at a shallower angle, but the Slinky will not make as many flips on this speedy walk. When the Slinky walks down a surface that is not as steep, such as the inclined plane at 15 degrees compared with 25 degrees, the Slinky should flip more (possibly around two to three times more). When traveling on a 20-degree inclination, the Slinky's speed and number of flips should be in between these two extremes. The exact conditions used in the activity, such as the smoothness of the plywood surface and Slinky's condition, can also affect how the toy performs at the different inclinations.
More to explore
Slinky Physics: How Do Toys Work? from Newton's Apple
High-speed video reveals the bizarre physics of Slinkies from Robert T. Gonzalez at io9
Inventor of the Week Archive: The Slinky from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Slinking Slinkies from Science Buddies
This activity brought to you in partnership with Science Buddies