Key Question: How Do the Laws of Physics Apply to Moving Vehicles?

Key Question: How Do the Laws of Physics Apply to Moving Vehicles?


Key Question: How do the laws of physics apply to moving vehicles?


In this project, you will use Newton’s 3 laws of motion and other concepts of physics to design and power a vehicle. This vehicle must travel forward 1.5 meters and be self-propelled (without an outside force).

Scooter Rules and Guidelines

  1. Your vehicle must travel forward a minimum of 1.5 meters and completely cross the finish line. The path of your vehicle must stay within a width of 0.5 meters. Your car should travel in a straight path.
  2. Working vehicles will receive an A- (92%), but vehicles that can carry an egg will receive an A (100%)
  3. You must build your vehicle from scrap materials.
  4. You may not interfere with the vehicle’s movement (you cannot push it or interfere with it while in motion)
  5. You cannot use any form of electricity or pull of gravity (no batteries or ramps)
  6. The following items are prohibited:
  7. Remote controls vehicles
  8. Store-bought projects
  9. Batteries
  10. Ramps
  11. CO2 cartridges, explosives
  12. Do Not make your car completely from a kit; like Legos or Knex.

Methods to Consider:

  • Inflated balloon – Air released from the balloon creates forward motion
  • Rubber band – release of tension sends the vehicle forward
  • Winding wheels – Unwinding causes forward motion of wheels
  • Mousetrap- force from the spring sends car forward
  • Clothespin springs
  • Propellers
  • There are others. You come up with a new method!

Starting the Project

  1. Work with your table group to create a pre project plan detailing:
  2. A project timeline
  3. Materials List
  4. Research
  5. Pre-construction Analysis Questions
  6. When and where vehicle experimentation will take place
  7. Pre-construction Sketch
  1. Pre-construction Research (all work must be recorded)
  2. You and your partners will use the Internet, expert advice, and/or books, to research ideas for the type of car you will design and build. Research three different types of propelled cars to help you decide on the type of vehicle you want to build. Your group will build a vehicle that can travel over land or by air. Submit the research via Google doc.
  1. Once you have an idea of what type of propelled vehicle you are going to build, start to sketch a design of your car. You may submit this on paper or by Google Docs.
  1. While planning your design answer the following questions:
  • How does your vehicle use and apply Newton’s 3 laws of motion?
  • Consider all the types of friction and how you can deal with them.
  • What other forces are acting on your vehicle?
  • Your vehicle design plans must be approved before you begin construction of your vehicle.
  • The final Scooter design should be displayed on your poster.

Building & Testing your Vehicle

  1. Once your research and planning is complete and approved, begin to build your scooter.
  1. Review requirements for materials that can be used.
  2. Build car according to your proposal (keep in mind that you will probably make changes to your original design)
  3. Identify areas of potential and kinetic energy occurring as you are testing your scooter. You will include this information on your poster.
  4. Test your vehicle for distance and a straight path
  5. Create a data table in your Google Doc to keep track of the information you collected. Your table should include:

the mass of your car,

distance your car travels in each attempt,

each change that you make to your design to increase distance

reflections during testing to show why you are trying the different things, these changes should not be random, but based on your understanding of physics

Types of friction present during the travel of your scooter, and how you dealt with them.

  1. Troubleshooting your vehicle (include this in the Google Doc)
  2. Does your car not travel in a straight line? Check the alignments of the axles.
  3. Do your wheels wobble? How can you fix them if they do?
  4. Are there any parts encountering friction? Do you want that to occur?

Presentation & Poster

  1. Includethe following items inyour poster to be displayed in the class. (The rubric has more details about each item).
  2. Final design must be included in complete detail with labels and materials used.
  3. Kinetic and Potential energy locations and explanations
  4. Forces that act on scooter (friction, gravity)
  5. Newton’s 3 laws and how they were applied in the design
  6. Be creative.

Race Day

  • March 25 and 26 (your date will be selected randomly)
  • You will have 3 attempts to get your vehicle to cross the finish line with or without the egg.
  • Your vehicle can be decorated to match your team’s chosen name. Creativity counts!
  • You can earn 5 extra creditpoints if you dress up (within school dress code rules) on presentation day to match the team name. Again, creativity counts.

Tasks & Grading Sheet

Task / Grade / Points
____ Scooter Research (show resources and design ideas in Google Doc)
  1. Three different ideas
  2. Sources
/ 5
_____Scooter Proposal (Google Doc)
  1. List of materials and connections toLaws of Motion
  2. How forces, friction apply to your design
  3. A detailed drawing, including parts and materials labeled.
  4. It must be neat! What would you turn in to the president of Toyota’s design department?
/ 10
_____Scooter Testing and Design(Google Doc)
  1. has thedata table, reflections, revisions and testing during the design phase of your project.
/ 15
  • Vehicle Sketch is included: The vehicle is well-drawn and labeled with all criteria included (you can include a picture of your vehicle and your team) (1pt)
  • Newton's 1st Law: described in red, and there is a red arrow pointing to what part of the vehicle will overcome the inertia (5pts)
  • Newton's 2nd Law: described in blue, F=ma is written, and there is a blue arrow pointing to what part of the vehicle provides force to overcome mass (5pts)
  • Newton's 3rd Law: described in green. There is a green arrow pointing behind your vehicle labeled "Action" to show the force. There is a green arrow labeled "Reaction/Motion" pointing the opposite direction at the front of your vehicle(5pts)
  • Friction Forces: Identify 2 sets of frictional forces. Vector arrows drawn and labeled in orange. The arrows are drawn horizontally, facing the direction opposite motion, and pointing to the part of the vehicle that experiences the friction. (1pt)
  • Gravitational Forces: Identifyhow gravity effects your vehicle, label in black.
  • Explanation of Kinetic Energy and Potential Energylabel their locationin purple.(1pt)
  • Creativity: Your team’s name is creatively drawn at the top in LARGE letters. The poster is decorated to match your team name and the vehicle. All team members’ appear on the poster. (2pts)
/ 20
RACE Day without egg
  • Car travels 1.5 meters and within 1 meter width with egg
/ 13
Total for Team ◊ extra credit / 70