Thursday, October 17, 2013

Super Secret Science Challenge THREE!

Field Agent Misty must rush to save her partner, Special Agent Sunshine, from the forces of evil! You need to build her a car that can move quickly, quietly and without much steering. (Misty has tiny, little hands. After all, she's a rat.)

This week's materials are:

  • 2 pieces of cardboard (make sure at least one piece is corrugated)
  • 4 CDs
  • 2 bamboo skewers
  • 2 drinking straws
  • 1 pipe cleaner
  • 2 paper clips
  • 6 various rubber bands
  • 1 clothespin
  • 1 binder clip 
  • 1 roll of masking tape
I also included 4 wooden hobby wheels and 4 pieces of wagon wheel pasta. I encourage you to look around and find other "wheels" to use -- try old tools, bottle caps, etc. 

The challenge here is to build a car from the materials. The facilitator should set a track of 10 feet for students to run the cars. The goal for younger children may only be to create a car that can run straight for that distance. It's not as easy as it sounds! Older students should be encouraged to use the rubber bands to propel the car. This is more challenging.

In all cases, students should use the experience to develop an understanding of how the wheel and axle works. The wheel and axle is one of the simple machines, allowing vehicles to move with less friction. The size of the wheel in relationship to the axle affects the amount of work done by the machine. Encourage students to explore these ideas.

To propel the car, attach a rubber band to the front axle, then pull it to the back of the car and secure it. Wind the axle, release it, and the energy you built up in the rubber band will be released to turn the axle. It can take a few tries to get it right, but once you do, there are endless variations.

Several examples are presented in the video, and I wanted to share them here as well, so that you can take a good look if you like.

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