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  Teaching Guide

Activity 1: Grades 5-8
Model Car Design

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  1. What is the stored source of power for your model car?
    (The stretched rubber skin of the balloon.)
  2. What are the three most important factors that affect the performance of your vehicle?
    (Accept all reasonable answers such as larger balloon, bigger wheels, etc.)
  3. What design factors are least applicable for transfer between your scale model and a full-sized vehicle? Explain.
    (Accept all reasonable answers such as balloon engine, no passenger load, etc.)

Critical Stretch
Does a reused balloon have the same energy storage potential as a new balloon? Considering the challenges of balloon reuse, how can you best insure that your testing is not affected by changes in the balloon's stored energy?
(Run trials with balloons of equal usage history.)

Transfer of Energy
Although the model car got its immediate thrust from the rush of air that raced out of the balloon nozzle, where did this energy first originate? (The sun.) Trace back the steps of energy conversion. Identify each step of the transfer and identify any energy losses associated with that change.

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