By: Celeste Osorio
Have you ever been to Circuit Of The Americas?
Well, let me tell you the wonderful trip the 8th graders (at the Ann Richards school) took. It was amazing and we all had fun. The reason why we took the trip was to test our balloon powered, recycled material cars and, to talk with the people who actually build the race cars.
This project was in our science class to study physics. Physics is the study of force and motion.
Now you may ask, what does this race car project have to do with engineering? The connection is building cars, and exploring all possibilities of the best design that will increase speed in our car. The car had to go fast on a flat track and a ramp. So when my team brainstormed ideas we practically went through the design process. It was quite complicated figuring out how to build the car with the constraints we had. The fastest way for the car to go down the ramp would be for it to be heavy. but if the car was heavy it wouldn’t move as fast as a light car on the flat track..
My group and I pulled many ideas from multiple places. I thought of how a rocket has the nose cone front to help with air resistance, so we incorporated that into our design. The theory we had was that the cone would help in the flat track and the ramp, because it would help with air resistance and let the car move faster.
The second idea I had was to put a turbine in the back of the car where the balloon air would hit it and propel the car.
I mean in theory these ideas were amazing and great but in real life it was very hard to make and construct the pieces. The wheels were made of cardboard and badly put.
When we got to Circuit Of the Americas we didn’t test our cars on the actual track but in a room.
Let me tell you my group was not ready. our wheels were the problem. When we tested it on the flat track it didn’t move at all but the turbine worked.
With this experience I learned to pay attention to every detail. I mean, if we would have made the wheels a priority like the other parts maybe the car would’ve moved. Lesson learned.
With this science project I had to use my engineer brain and put it to action and explore ideas, and look at the design and experiment. Over all I really liked how I had to use engineering outside of my PLTW class.