As the 2016-2017 school year began I volunteered to be on our district’s STEM committee. The committee included our 1st grade teacher, high school science teacher and myself. We met the end of September and decided to concentrate on our 6th, 7th and 8th graders, 28 students. The next step was deciding what type of project to undertake with them. I attended a workshop at MEA which discussed a project similar to pinewood derby cars and races which caught my interest. At our next committee meeting we looked through the Pitsco web page. We decided to order their dragster kits.
The dragsters are powered by CO2 cartridges and launched with a starting gate. While waiting for the kits to arrive we had the students do some research on jobs related to the automobile industry such as mechanics, insurance, highway construction, to name a few. We also talked with the students about how the CO2 cartridges work. We did not meet with them in December but in January started building the cars. We met with half the group each time and were glad for the smaller numbers as they needed more help than expected putting the cars together from the kits. The next time we met we talked about friction and ways to possibly make their car faster. We then met with them in the high school shop and they did some ‘doctoring’ on their cars. Using sandpaper, chisels, and small saws was new to many. We only had to glue one car back together! We were then ready for the trial races. All of us were amazed at how fast the cars went. The end of January we raced the fastest cars at halftime of a basketball game. The audience loved it! The top three winners received ‘chamber bucks.’
We hope to do a similar project next year possibly using an inclined plane. Thanks to all MCTM friends for helping fund this project.
High School Math Teacher
Terry Public Schools