Collect Data...Then Compare and Contrast (Lesson 4)

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Carol Patrick
Intended Grade Level(s):
Estimated Activity Length:
1 hour
Learning Goal(s):

Students will:

  • Compare and contrast forces acting on the system by examining the results of the solar car races.
  • Explain the mechanics of gear ratios and demonstrate the most useful ratio to use when constructing solar cars.
  • Explain the benefits of employing a pulley-system in their car construction. Students will understand the importance of selecting measurable, specific variables to compare in their data collection process in order to make evidence-based claims.
Next Generation Science Standard(s) Met:

Students will race different iterations of solar cars: geared and pulley-system cars using varying gear ratios. Students will have the opportunity to make predictions, record data, and explain the results centered on the selection of these different variables in their car construction. Through this activity, they will have the chance to explore how gear ratios function and investigate potential advantages and disadvantages of pulley-systems relating to friction and weight. During this process, it will be critical for them to track the differing variables being used and noting the importance of selecting measurable components. 

Science Kit Material(s) Used

Solar Machines Kit

Other Material(s) Used

Light Source, racetrack (meter sticks, chalk on ground, built track, etc)

Thumbnail Image

Solar Car Race