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September 22, 2014

The Brown Bag STEM Challenge II- Derby Cars

For this week, I thought we'd explore the use of derby cars to teach STEM.  Not the pinewood kind that the boy scouts make, but a variation of that using a clothespin as the car body.  In this challenge, students will each build their own derby car, but will work with a partner for support.  Students are challenged to design the derby car that will complete the "track" the fastest.

Clothespins (one per student)
Buttons, Spearmint Lifesavers, Wagon Wheel pasta, etc.
Masking Tape
Thin Wire (such as twist ties, floral wire, etc.)
Foam Pipe Insulation (one 6ft length for every 2 groups)
Stopwatches (1 per group)

I like to use the foam pipe insulation as the track because it is inexpensive and flexible.  You can buy the non-stick kind in six foot lengths very cheaply at your local hardware store. Using scissors, cut it lengthwise to make two derby car tracks.  For more advanced students, you can require that their track involve a number or curves or loops.  For beginners, the track can be taped to a wall at a particular height.

Students can build their cars using any of the materials.  Generally, students will place the front axle in the hole at the front of the clothespin and the second in the back somewhere, securing it with tape.  However, there is no rule that the clothespin must be the body.  Students can construct their derby car however they like.

So, what did we learn? 
Next Generation Science Standards: Developing and Using Models, Planning and Carrying Out Investigation, Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information ; CCC- Scale, Proportion and Quantity Cause and Effect

CCSS Math: Operations and Algebraic Thinking, Measurement and Data, Expressions and Equations

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