Propeller-Powered Car

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Step 1: Propeller-Powered Car

Although Instructables offers some similar projects, I want to show you how to make a propeller car that can easily be made by many kids in grades 1 and up.

This car can travel up to 40ft on a smooth and flat surface! Most kids can complete the project in less than an hour.

Lesson Plan:

Grade range: 3-5
Prep: 1/5
Setup: 2/5
Cleanup: 1/5

Prep: None
Setup: Set up glue guns

Start-of-class lecture

  • Demonstrate the project
  • Explain how energy from the rubberband is used to turn the propeller, which propels the car by pushing air
  • Show step-by-step how to build the propeller car
  • Demonstrate and explain how to successfully launch the car

As always, please be sure to talk about glue gun safety with your students if they have never used glue guns before. I've found that kids as young as 7 years old can safely and confidently use a hot glue gun if given proper instruction and guidance.

Step 2: Materials

1/8" Bamboo skewers
Craft sticks
Craft cubes
Long rubberbands
Masking tape
Hot glue

    Step 3: Make the wheels

    Step 4: Make the propeller shaft

      Step 5: Assemble + launch

      Step 6: Tips and troubleshooting

      • Remove any thin strands of dried glue before operating the car. "Hot glue strings" get tangled in the axle or propeller shaft.
      • Make sure the skewers (axles) are straight. These are mass produced and can be severely warped.
      • More rubberbands isn't always better. Too much energy can cause the car to spin wildly out of control.
      • Wide-set wheels are more stable than narrow ones. A narrow car may flip over from the torque generated by the rubber band.
      • The rubberbands may become loose over time. You can breath new life into old bands by unhooking them and tying one end into an overhand knot. Now the remaining band is shorter (and tighter) than before.

      Please be sure to take video or photos if you do this project with your class and post it in the comments :)
      Have fun teaching!

        License: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike.

        Tools and Space
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