Topic Progress:

Lesson – Vroom, Vroom!


Title: Vroom! Vroom!
Grade Level: 4th Grade
Duration: Two – 30 Minute Lessons


Science – SC.4.P.10.2
Investigate and describe that energy has the ability to cause motion or create change.


Can an object that is pushed or pulled create enough kinetic energy to cause acceleration or deceleration?


Essential Question

How can energy cause motion or create change?

Background Information

Energy is all around us! Energy helps us explain how and why things work the way they do. Although, we are not able to hold or touch energy, we can see it as light, feel it as heat, hear it as sound, and produce it as we do work. By applying force to an object, you can change the form.

Kinetic energy is the energy of motion. All moving objects have kinetic energy. When an object is in motion, it changes as its positions move in a direction: up, down, forward, or backward. That energy is used to do work, or gather up speed in an object. A force is defined as a push or pull. When there is an unbalanced force there is a force that changes an object’s motion or causes it to accelerate.

For example, when a person colors in a drawing, he or she exerts a force on the crayon; because the person is pushing or pulling the crayon across the paper. Another example is when two equal forces move in the same direction. So If two people, at the same time, are pushing a table across the floor in the same direction, the two forces are added together. Adding these two forces together is called the net force.

A net force is required to cause changes in motion (speed or direction). If an object is at rest, a net force is required to put it into motion. If an object is in motion, a net force is required to slow it down/bring it to rest. This change in motion is called acceleration. When an object increases its speed/direction (velocity) it is called acceleration, when an object decreases its speed/direction(velocity) it is called deceleration.

Guiding Questions

  • What is energy?
  • What is potential energy?
  • What is kinetic energy?
  • How do objects move and change position?
  • What is a push/pull?
  • What are the ways objects can move?
  • How can we use the energy of motion?
  • What are other forces that can make object move?


The purpose of this investigation is to determine what is required to cause changes in motion. Students will work on increasing and decreasing velocity/speed by pulling and pushing an item.


  • Corrugated Board or Foam Board 3 x 6”
  • 2- Straws
  • 12” wooden food skewer
  • Duct tape
  • 10” Balloon
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • 1 Lid from a 2L bottle

This experiment works best when you have at least 3 to 4  groups creating  a vehicle at the same time.  It allows  the students to learn from their peers as well as determine who’s construction works best.  Select students and place them in groups.  However, you make also have each group work on a different step of the procedure to create just one. Set aside a flat area in the room to conduct the races when the students are finished building.


  1. Take your ruler and measure out 2-  3” pieces from one of the straws (to be used as the axles of your car).
  2. Take your ruler and measure out a piece of Corrugated Board or Foam Board  to 3 x 6” (7.5 x 15). This will be the base of your car.
  3. Now take the two pieces of straws and place them on the underside of your base. This will be the axle of the vehicle. The straws need to be as parallel to each other and as perpendicular to the center line of the base as possible.
  4. Next, take your scissors to gently remove the mouth of the balloon. Make sure to cut off only the rim as you want to ensure a tight seal on the straw.
  5. Now the steps can get a little tricky – BEFORE YOU ADHERE THE TAPE, SET STRAWS AND BALLOON IN PLACE.
  6. Slide the straw into the balloon about 2” inches, then use tape to make it airtight. Make sure that the tape touches both the balloon and the straw. Wrap the tape around tightly in spiral wraps to ensure that the tape is affixed firmly. 
  7. Turn the base so the straws are on the bottom. Then decide which end will be the front and which will be the rear of your car. You want to place the straw towards the rear of the car and the balloon towards the front in about the center of the base. The straw sticks way out of the back and it needs to be as straight as you can make it. Now securely tape the straw in place.
  8. Take the food skewers and measure out 4″ in each. From the flat end (not the pointy end) of the skewer, measure two 4”  length. Slide the new axles into the straws on the base. You’re almost there…
  9. Now take the soda bottle cap to trace and cut four circles on the cardboard. These will be the wheels for your car so draw them carefully. Use the ruler to find the center of each. Mark the spot carefully! Cutting out the wheels is as important as having parallel axles so take your time. The rounder the wheels the better. Teachers:  Please complete this portion with your students. Use the best tool you have to poke a small hole through the very center of each wheel. That would be where the two diameter lines cross.
  10. Attach the round wheels to the axles.

You have finally reached the moment to race your vehicle!

You are ready to fuel your racer with potential energy by inflating the balloon. Block or pinch the straw as you set up on the start point and then release it when you’re ready to roll. Potential energy converts to kinetic energy. 

Vroom, Vroom, ready set go!!!