Science a real blast at Waikanae School

By Peter Corlett
July 2012
Lindsay Shaw and Grace Cocker with their gas powered vehicles

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.’

Jessie Carter and Connor Williams

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.

Thanks for the comment …. maybe the exercise wasn’t about cars and non-renewable resource consumption … maybe it was about science – forces and motion… and helping kids engage with science may be a useful approach to helping them think about the future and the world they live in. You might be interested in visiting the school some time…. with our working envirocentre growing plants for local waterways, our arbor day trip to the Pharazyn Reserve to undertake planting projects over the last 5 years, and our whole school sustainable living focus for 2013.

Yet another fine example of the failed education system.
Cars are so yesterday, the kids should be focusing on what will save their sorry butts going forward ie growing food, not trying to emulate a soon to be extinct ‘custom’
It is hard to educate the educators when they have minds as closed as the likes of Jim. Don’t watch this folks …. it will keep the delusion going if NOT watched
The king is not only stark naked he is raving mad, but non of you can see it.
Can’t blame the kids though they are victims of your ignorance.
Next project for the children – study the French revolution or Somalia and get ready.