Science a real blast at Waikanae School
By Peter Corlett
Waikanae School students have moved into 21st-century technology recently with their own range of gas-powered model cars.
The recently completed science and technology unit by Year 7 & 8 students at the School saw students design and make their own cars.
Each child was required to develop a vehicle design brief, based on materials that consisted of an initial wedge shaped piece of Balsa Wood, four wheels, and two thin stick axles and a small CO2 gas cylinder.
They researched principles of vehicle design, including aerodynamics and weight versus strength.
Using craft knives and sandpaper children carved and shaped the balsa wood wedges.
Design approaches differed with innovations such as internal wheels in cavities carved under the car, wings designed to increase stability, and carving off as much wood as possible to reduce overall weight. Some were bulbous in shape while some looked more like ‘racing parsnips.’
However, once the cars were painted they became works of art.
Each car was then fitted with a CO2 canister before the final competitive races.
The ‘track’ consisted of two parallel lengths of nylon running down the hall which were used to guide the vehicles. A car was attached to each line and a mat was placed at the end of the track to stop the cars when they had travelled the length of the hall. A launcher device was used that simultaneously punctured the end of the gas canisters, propelling the vehicles along the line.
Except for one occasion when the lines were inadvertently crossed, causing cars to crash, — with one disintegrating — the project has been a unique success story.