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The Student Voice of Wichita Northwest High School

Northwest Explorer

The Student Voice of Wichita Northwest High School

Northwest Explorer

The Student Voice of Wichita Northwest High School

Northwest Explorer

Physics Students Make Rubber Band Cars

Sophomore Brian Taylor high fives his teammates quickly after zooming across the finish line. And no, this isn’t NASCAR, but Taylor just stole the victory for longest distance in the physic’s longest distance challenge.

“If you’ve ever read the ugly duckling, it was very similar. No one expected it to go the farthest. They pointed and laughed but we knew deep down that it’s what’s on the inside that counts,” junior Brian Taylor said after his group’s not so attractive car won farthest distance.

Physics students built cars out of various materials that are powered by a single rubber band and then graph the displacement, velocity and acceleration.

“It’s fun and frustrating,” physics teacher Lynda Snyder said about her classes’ recent rubber band car experiment. “Students have to work together and think ‘outside the box’ to create a working, beautiful car.”

The class was divided into groups of four and each group brought in materials to build and decorate a car. But for some students their favorite part of the lab was racing their car against their classmates. Cars were pitted against each other in attempt to win fastest car, farthest distance and a variety of other categories, including best design.

Junior Thalia Fenton’s group built the car using two sizes of Quick Trip lids, a water bottle, wooden sticks, straws and a rubber band.

“We hole punched the bottle to poke the axels through then hot glued the wheels,” Fenton said.

The goal of this experiment was to learn about acceleration. After the competitions were over it was time to get to work. Students had to record and graph the acceleration of their car.

“Our car accelerated pretty fast and then it would back up a little before stopping,” junior Nicole Dohrman said. “Our car was simple compared to others, but it was lighter in weight so it was faster.”

“[Students learn] a little about designing, force, friction, stability, a lot about patience and perseverance,” Snyder said. “They can see how the car moves and relate that to their calculations and graphs.”

Some other cars included a Sunny Delight bottle with a cape made by junior Olivia Resch, junior Morganne Wiltse and their group and junior Cayla West’s group a car made only with things found in the classroom.

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