Project Goal: Students build cars that are rapidly propelled across the floor at least 10 feet.
- Axle width
- Number of wheels
- Wheel Alignment means all the wheels all point in one direction
- Energy transformation is when one kind of energy turns into a different form
Prep: Bend paperclips into hooks (1 per student)
Safety: Launch cars only horizontally across the floor. Designate a launching area and direction when students begin to test.
Step 1: Materials
These are the materials you will need to complete the most basic example, however you'll definitely need more to allow your students to add onto their own car.
8 Craft sticks
Tape and hot glue
Craft cubes (for modifications)
Plastic cups (for stackable crash targets)
Step 2: The basic frame
The frame can be just about any shape and size. I use a rectangular frame for my example because it has about the same proportions as a real car and it's easy to build.
Step 3: Adding wheels
I like to use wheels that are at least as wide as one craft stick for stability.
You may need to give some hands-on help to students who are having trouble fitting a plastic wheel into a skewer. If it is being particularly stubborn, I will use my wood cutters to whittle the end of the skewer a little so that the wheel will fit easily.
Step 4: The paperclip hook
The hook is just like my Slingshot Rocket and Slingshot Dart Shooter. This little paperclip hook works very well for grabbing onto a rubberband, but also for releasing it at the right moment.
Children in grades 1-3 sometimes have difficulty bending the paperclips. You may want to bend these as part of your prep work.
The hook should be near the front of the car, though not necessarily in the exact position that's shown. If your students add some extensive modifications that interfere with the launching, you may need to relocate the hook.
Step 5: The slingshot
These slingshots are easy to make and work well. Long rubber bands make launching easier, and it has a higher capacity for storing potential energy.