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Fast Cars

Ideas from Teachers


(Gr. 6-8)
Objective
To team up to design and construct a balloon-powered rocket car.


Materials

  • Styrofoam tray
  • pins
  • tape
  • flexible straw

Procedure

  1. Lay out your pattern on a Styrofoam tray. You need 1 rectangle, 4 wheels, and 4 hubcaps. Use a compass or given patterns to draw the wheels.

  2. Blow up the balloon and let the air out. Tape the balloon to the short end of a flexible straw. Tape the straw to the rectangle.

  3. Push the pins through the hubcaps into the wheels and then into the edges of the rectangle.

  4. Blow up the balloon through the straw. Squeeze the end of the straw. Place the car along a measured track on the floor and let it go!

  5. Record time and distance.

The American Society for Mechanical Engineers have a wonderful packet that has design ideas and templates. Go to http://www.asme.org/education/precollege/achieve/pdf/auto.pdf for more information.

Assessment
I suggest that you give students three time trials for the cars and look at how they change the engineering of the car from the first to the third trial. For each trial students should try to make modifications to the car to improve performance.

Classroom Tips
You can use a Calculator-Based Ranger with the Texas Instrument graphing calculators (TI-83) to graph the position of the rocket car over time during the race (I like to project real-time data of the car on a screen using an overhead during the race). The results of the graph can be analyzed later to explain the connection between speed and acceleration of an object.

Sent in by
Terence J. Laughlin
Tulpehocken Area
Bernville, PA


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Fast Cars
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