Propeller-Powered Zipline Racers

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Introduction: Propeller-Powered Zipline Racers

About: I'm a writer, maker, and educator who's on a mission to better the world through hands-on engineering projects. Check out my work: www.stem-inventions.com/

This lightning-fast project provides the thrill of propeller-driven thrust, but without the challenges of aerodynamic flight!

You can find the lesson plan, 1-page project sheet, and more project ideas at STEM-Inventions.com

Materials


How It Works
It's simple. Winding the propeller will store energy in a rubberband by twisting it. When released, the propeller rapidly unwinds and generates thrust, which pulls the craft along a low-friction zipline. However, the torque from the unwinding propeller can cause the entire racer to flip upside down. To counter this force, another force is introduced: drag. By attaching a paper cutout, drag perpendicular to the side of the racer is created, which helps prevent inversions.

Safety and Tips

  • CAUTION! Pulling downward on the racer while it is hooked onto the zipline may cause it to be flung off the line upon being released. This can be dangerous when the propeller is rapidly unwinding. Be sure to directly supervise each student at least once as they attempt to launch their racer for the first time. Be sure to correct anyone who pulls on the zipline before a launch.
  • Make sure the zipline is either highly visible or above everyone's head.
  • Young students (grades 1-3) may need extra guidance while bending the paperclips, attaching the rubberbands, and properly launching the racer.
  • Encourage your students to experiment, especially if they're in grades 4 and up - I'm always amazed by their innovations and improvements.
Education Contest

Participated in the
Education Contest

5 People Made This Project!

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19 Discussions

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3DNicholos
3DNicholos

1 year ago

This has been such a fantastic activity to use in the classroom! I adapted it for use with largely 5th grade students, though have also facilitated it with kids in our museum and a number of freshmen students. Great ways to add math and science are to have students measure the time it takes to travel down the zipline and how far it goes, and calculate its speed. See my remix for more info, a handy speed calculator worksheet, and others tips. Thanks so much to LanceMakes for this inspiration!

https://www.instructables.com/id/Zipline-Racers-Detailed-Instructable-Remix/

Zipline Racer example.jpg
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LanceMakes
LanceMakes

Reply 1 year ago

Amazing! So glad this activity inspired you to create your own remix and share it!

0
shllys26
shllys26

2 years ago

Where can I get template for animal shapes, to go one the zip line racer? This is great!

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LanceMakes
LanceMakes

Reply 2 years ago

Hello! I've long since discarded my templates - sorry. To create them, I just printed out silhouettes of images I found online, then traced them onto thin cardboard and cut them out for students to use. Have fun!

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26hersheys
26hersheys

3 years ago

I made it for a science project.

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gharrel6163
gharrel6163

3 years ago

My friends pictures are above me!!!!

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chans59
chans59

3 years ago

IT IS FUN!!

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chans59
chans59

3 years ago

Wow!That's Great

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AmylouK
AmylouK

8 years ago on Introduction

Hi there! I'm an Elementary Ed student and I'll be using this to present a lesson on push and pull to my peers. You have some really great ideas and I'm sure we'll have a blast! Thanks!

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stumitch
stumitch

8 years ago on Introduction

as a shop teacher of 14 years i have to say what a GREAT job you've done! i am already in the process of stringing a line in my shop! thanks!
-stu

0
LanceMakes
LanceMakes

Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

Much appreciated :) I've admired many of your projects from the teacher contest - keep up your superb work and imagination!

oh, and if you can, please post some photos if you try out this project. Thanks!

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stumitch
stumitch

Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

thanks for the kind words! i'll post photos or email them if you'd like.
-stu

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hungyhipo 2
hungyhipo 2

8 years ago on Introduction

If you are a teacher (which I'm pretty sure you are) you are probably one of the coolest.

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LanceMakes
LanceMakes

Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

Thanks! I do my best to create a fun atmosphere for kids to learn in :)

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Hiyadudez
Hiyadudez

8 years ago on Introduction

I don't build any of your project (Nothing personal :P), but I still watch the tutorials all the way through.

Your voice is brilliant and your instructions are super clear and easy to follow. I would follow you, but I already am :D

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LanceMakes
LanceMakes

Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

Wow, thanks for the feedback - It's always hard to judge one's own Instructables, so it's great to hear that it's working :)