Grade 5 students design and build a car to protect an egg as it rolls down a ramp and slams into a wall.
“Throughout this project, we’re learning about Newton’s first law, second law, and third law of motion. We are also learning about inertia, momentum, and how a car exhibits those laws of motion,” Lower School Science Teacher George Mulligan said.
He explained that behind all the STEM challenges is the scientific method. Students are confronted with a problem, they must develop a hypothesis, then they test their hypothesis. It sets a foundation for when they are conducting experiments in the Middle and Upper Schools.
For this assignment, he provides the boys with a base which has the wheels for the car, but the rest must be built with only photocopier paper and scotch tape. There are two crucial components students must focus on; the crumple zone in the front of the car and the passenger compartment zone where the egg sits.
“We made the front of the car thick so it would protect it, and we put shredded paper next to the egg so it would cushion the egg,” Max ’30 explained.
“The front crumple zone was the hardest thing to do because we had to restart it three or four times. Our first idea was a lot smaller, and it didn’t work out. So, we added more to it, and it finally ended up working,” John ’30 said.
Mulligan said he was very impressed with the way the students built their crumple zones. "There were cars that rolled down and basically just stopped so gently. The front crumple zone totally absorbed all the energy, which was awesome.” he said.
Along with making sure their eggs survived, boys competed for a style award and to see which pair could construct the lightest car.
"I had to make this challenge harder than last year. Last year, they could use any paper product like cardboard or construction paper,” Mulligan said. “So, this year we made it even harder with only photocopier paper, and I was pleasantly surprised that they not only rose to the challenge, but they did so well, I’ve got to make it even harder for next year!”