Bright Future: Frazier students huff and puff for science excellence
Published 12:04 am Wednesday, December 11, 2013
The fifth-grade student was one of dozens who made the cars as part of a science project in Mary Blough’s class, but only one of four who won contests judging the cars on distance, speed, environment and design.
Trask’s car stood high above the others because of the four CDs he chose to use as wheels.
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Drinking straws served as the car’s axels, while plastic bottle caps glued to each side of the wheels kept them from wobbling.
All the elements were poked into a small cereal box with a yellow balloon glued on top that served as the cars engine — or rocket booster depending on who you ask.
“We learned about Newton’s Third Law because the air shoots out of the balloon one way, but pushes the car the other way,” Trask said. “For every action, there is always an equal and opposite reaction.”
The students spent a week working on their projects at home and in the classroom after a YouTube video of similar rocket car races inspired the project.
“We watch videos all the time, but to have the students get the chance to do this hands-on project where they have to put what they’re learning into action is great,” Blough said. “The best part for me is watching them figure out what’s wrong after something goes wrong.
“That tells me they really understand what’s going on.”
After days of tinkering with the cars, Tuesday was finally race day, and students competed in different categories: fastest car, furthest car, best car handling friction and most original design.
Trask and his car’s large CD wheels did best in the friction category when the students raced the cars a distance of 60 meters on a carpet surface.
Javantae Washington’s car took the prize as the fastest with a simple, square and low design made from construction paper.
The wheels were taken from one of Washington’s toy cars at home and ended up being one of the deciding factors in his victory.
“I used these because they would go fast,” Washington said. “I tried some different tires at first, but they didn’t work so I had to switch.”
Washington was also the only student to use a long, skinny balloon that held more air but required more space in the car to store it.
“We had the choice to use a regular balloon or the long one, and I wanted to use the long one because I thought it would make it go faster,” he said. “It worked.”
Design and speed met half way with Aleria Thompson’s car, which used two thread spools as wheels on top of a shoebox type body.
“I didn’t think the spools were going to work very well, but hers did great,” Blough said. “I was very surprised, and she definitely had the most original design.”
Thompson said the idea to use the spools was originally her grandfathers, but the alterations she made along the way to the design were all hers.
“I got fussed at because he said I wasn’t doing it right, but it worked,” Thompson said. “At first when I would blow up the balloon, the car would turn too much to the right, so I had to make some changes.”
Fifth grader Ornael Chapman won the competition for furthest car.
The students who won first place in the categories each received a $5 gift card to Walmart.