Week 2: Propeller Cars

This week’s enrichment kit has everything your family needs to build a rubber band-powered propeller car! Take a shot at some home-made engineering and see how far you can make your car drive!

Instructions are included in the kit, but will also be posted below:

Supplies Needed
  • 10 popsicle sticks
  • 1 popsicle stick that has been cut in half
  • (2) 1/2″ wooden blocks
  • 1 large paperclip
  • 4 plastic wheels
  • (2) 1/8” wooden dowels, cut to 8.5” long
  • 2 paper straws
  • 1 plastic propeller
  • 2 rubber bands
  • Tape and/or Glue

Step 1: Create the Base

Using seven sticks, create a rectangular base with one stick across the middle for support. It should create something that looks like two squares next to each other. Set aside and allow plenty of time for the glue to dry.

Step 2: Create Axels and Wheels

Slide a dowel into a straw and place a wheel on each end. If the wheels fit too loosely, you can place a strip of masking tape over the dowel, or apply glue before placing the wheel. Repeat to create a second axle and wheels.

Step 3: Attach Axels to the Base

Once the glue on the base has  dried, tape each axle to the short sides of the base. Be sure to apply tape to the straws and not the dowels or wheel, so that they can still turn freely inside of the straw.

Step 4: Finish the Base

Glue one wooden block to both short ends of the base, as closely centered between the wheels as possible. Pick one side to be the front of your car and glue the stick that has been cut in half to the wooden block so that it sticks straight up.

Step 5: Create the Motor

While the base is drying, glue or tape three sticks together by laying two sticks end to end and attaching a third so that it covers half of each stick. Then attach the propeller to one end of the combined sticks. Open a paperclip to a 45 degree angle and tape the paperclip to the other end. Make sure that the metal eyelet of the propeller and the unfolded portion of the paperclip are on the same side.

Step 6: Finish the Motor

Once the glue has dried on your motor, attach one or more rubber bands between the propeller hook and the paperclip. The number of rubber bands you use will determine how powerfully the motor will propel the car.

Step 7: Attach the Motor to the Car

Once glue has dried on both he motor and the base, it’s time to glue the motor to the base. Attach the motor so that the paperclip end attaches to the block at the rear of the car, and the propeller end attaches to the half-stick on the front of the car. Allow car to dry overnight.

Step 8: Drive!

Once the car is assembled and all glue has dried, wind the motor by rotating the propeller  clockwise.  Place the car on a smooth flat surface and release the propeller to see it drive. As you drive it, try to think of ways you can improve the car.

Enjoy!

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