Lesson – Wind Powered Vehicle Experiment
In this experiment, students will design, build, and test a small wind-powered sail car. After constructing the sail cars, they will then compete against each other to see which car will travel the farthest distance.
Pre-planning for Experiment
Teachers, ask students to collect the following materials to bring to class (allow 2-3 weeks for collection of materials):
- Plastic bottles and bottle caps
- Milk cartons
- Toilet paper rolls
*These materials are not necessary to make the sail cars; however, they will allow for a greater variation in car design and construction in terms of car body and wheel type.
- Arrange a race course by using masking tape to mark the starting line. Give as much room as possible for cars to travel in length.
- Place the fan or hair dryer behind the starting line and facing the race course.
Any electric fan or hair dryer
3-5 Straws (per group)
4 Lifesavers Candy (per group)
1 Piece of Paper (per group)
2 Paper Clips (per group)
24 inches of tape (per group)
1 pair of scissors
- Working in teams of two, students will use the materials provided to design and construct a wind-powered sail car.
- The cars should be able to efficiently capture the wind in order to travel the farthest distance.
- They do not have to use all of the materials provided and may use the scissors to cut the paper and straws (or any of the materials brought from home).
- After 30 minutes for design and construction, cars will be tested on the designated race course by turning on the fan or hair dryer.
- The fan will be turned off once any car goes off the course boundaries or if the cars stop moving.
- The winner will be determined by the car that travels the farthest distance perpendicular to the starting line, or the point where the car traveled off the course boundary.