Paper Car Challenge

How can a paper car be constructed from three sheets of copy paper?

Competition is often enjoyed by all students if it is not too intense. The building of cars from only paper, glue and axles is a challenge that incorporates the spirit of competition as well as the knowledge of construction techniques that contribute to car speed. The car races make use of physical laws, time, speed, and distance. The activity offers a great way to integrate the use of science, mathematics and engineering.

This project involves the construction of paper cars, the racing of the cars in the home classroom to gather data, and the sharing of data from other sites.

Students will create a car according to the specifications, conduct races, recording the race data, and prepare data tables and spread sheets that communicate the results of the races. This information will then be shared with other competitors. When the information has been tabulated by the initiating school, winners will receive recognition.

This unit is designed for all students K-12.

Each site will supply the following materials:
Paper Rain gutter
Glue Stop watch
Axles (6cm) Computer (to record data)
Erasers Duct tape

Students will create a car using three sheets of copy paper, axles, and glue. The car should weigh no more than 30 grams and should be able to carry two 1"x 1" art gum erasers. The car should be no more than 6 centimeters wide. It can use any material for axles. We have found Q Tip rods cut to the proper length work very well. Elmers type glue works best. Cars may be spray painted or markers may be used. Cars are disqualified if they don't meet these standards.

The cars should be raced on a track made of two raingutters or some similar material. The track is elevated 1&1/2 Meters at one end. We are experimenting with photogate timing equipment but have been using a stop watch.

If your class wants to participate in the RFTS Final Race, send them to us with funds to return the cars if you wish to have us send them back. We will also produce a short video of the races and will dub you a copy if you enclose $20. The length of the tape will be at least 30 minutes.

Linda Robinson