I can't take credit for "inventing" this cool project but I've adapted this to make it a lot easier to build, and it can be done very quickly. This is an activity I do with my 7th and 8th grade students in a Small Engines Repair class, but it could be used for many other activities like drafting, measuring, studying the laws of motion, or even a history project, as it closely remembers an old hit and miss engine.
Content Learning Objective:
By building a Toilet Paper Engine, students will understand the basic principles of operation in an Internal Combustion Engine.
Language Learning Objective:
By building a Toilet Paper Engine, students will identify engine parts using their correct names; i.e.- a ping pong ball is not a ping pong ball, it is a Piston.
Please find included below an Instructions Booklet .pdf, a Template .pdf, and a Measurements Worksheet .pdf. Also included is a Google Sketchup model of the completed engine
I have had a few people ask about other resources relating to engines that could be used when teaching, so here are a few!
http://www.animatedengines.com/ Excellent website that shows cutaway animations of just about every type of engine you could imagine!
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four-stroke_engine Wikipedia's take- a couple of great animations, TONS of information, and lots of other links to more websites.
http://www.animatedpiston.com/Home.htm A couple of animations of different motorcycle engines- neat because you can hide different parts of the engine while the animation is running.
Step 1: Gather Materials and Tools
Hot Glue Gun
Drill or Drill press and Drill bit
Approx. 2 sq feet of cardboard
Toilet paper roll or paper towel roll cut in half
8" of wire (a wire hanger would be perfect)
Piece of wood dowel ( just over 4" long and about 3/8" dia)
Ping Pong Ball
2 used or worthless cd's
Duct tape (you never know, right?)
Glue sticks for the hot glue gun
Small piece of sandpaper or file
Additional items that come in handy (especially if building with large groups):
Trace-able templates for the cardboard parts made in step 2.
Several crankshaft bending templates
Pre-cut and drilled dowels for the connecting rods.
COST: I estimate each engine has roughly $1.00 worth of materials. The only things I had to buy was the Ping Pong ball (40 cents), the dowel ($1.00 was enough to make at least 6), and the wire (large role cost me $4.00). I had sandpaper, tape, hot glue sticks, and everything else laying around.