Students explore the laws of motion through racecar challenge


Eighth-grade students at Coakley Middle School recently tested out Newton’s Laws of Motion by designing race cars and competing in a race car challenge.

“We had to use what we learned in class and conduct our research to come up with our designs,” said Catherin Duncan. “I based my design off of a car that I saw on YouTube, but I added my own flair. I made mine out of a water bottle, and I used medicine bottle caps for the wheels. I attached rubber bands to it to create some tension. Releasing the rubber bands is what makes the car move forward.”

In the hands-on challenge, students were required to build an aerodynamic race car out of materials they had at home. Their objective was to make the car move past five meters without manually pushing it forward.

“Our students are having a blast. I’m very impressed by the creativity in their cars,” said science teacher Stephanie Huerta. “Within this one project they learned about potential energy, kinetic energy, acceleration, velocity, distance, and time. The kids love it because it incorporates math and science.”

Students had a week and a half to complete their cars. They had the opportunity to conduct a trial run. If the run didn’t go well, they could go back and identify any problems to improve their design.

“I learned about speed and velocity since we had to calculate our speed using the distance and the time,” said Duncan. “I learned a lot about how friction can affect movement.”

A first place winner was chosen from each class and then those students will go on to compete against each other.

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