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Energizing Everything    Mystery 1

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How can a car run without gas?

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Beginning Exploration (1 of 7)
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Beginning Exploration (2 of 7)

Discuss:

What do you think? When a person is making a car go, can the car go on forever? Why or why not?

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Beginning Exploration (3 of 7)
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Beginning Exploration (4 of 7)

Discuss: Where does this car get its energy from?

windupcar

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Beginning Exploration (5 of 7)
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Beginning Exploration (6 of 7)

Discuss:

If you wanted a wind-up car to go farther, what would you do?

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Beginning Exploration (7 of 7)

TEACHERS — NEED A NATURAL STOPPING POINT?

The Rubber Band Roller Activity takes about 40 minutes. Constructing the roller takes about 20 minutes and then racing their rollers in teams takes another 20 minutes.

If your time is limited, there is a natural stopping point after the students complete their rollers. At that point, you could have students write their names on their rollers, then collect them and conduct the race during your next science class.

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Beginning Activity: Rubber Band Rollers
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Activity Prep

Step 1: Get supplies, print worksheets, and watch the troubleshooting video.

Each student will need:

  • a #32 rubber band (i.e. ⅛” wide) — available at any office supply store or Amazon (Rubber bands that are thicker will store & release too much energy, causing racers to spin wildly; rubber bands that are too thin won’t store enough energy to make racers move.)
  • a paper cup (8 oz cups are a good size)
  • two disposable plastic cup lids with straw slot in the middle — available at fast food restaurants, coffee shops, Staples. (Lids should be larger than the paper cup)
  • a pencil or pen that can write on the cup lid
  • a toothpick
  • a plastic straw
  • 2 pony beads (9mm size) — available at Amazon and craft stores
  • a large paper clip
  • a 1” x 1” cardboard square (The cardboard from a cereal box is the right stiffness.)
  • a hole punch to share with a few other students
  • a Race to the Sweet Spot worksheet

To set up the racetrack, you will also need:

  • a yardstick or tape measure
  • some masking tape
  • a clear floor space measuring at least 4 feet wide and about 14 feet long

Finally, watch this 2-minute video for tips that will help you keep your rollers from spinning out of control.

Step 2: Before class, cut cardboard squares for students & set up your racetrack.

It takes about 15 minutes to cut and punch squares for a class of 30; 10 minutes to set up racetrack.

Cut the cardboard into squares that are about 1” on each side. If you only have one or two hole punches, we also recommend punching a hole in each square before class.

To set up the racetrack, mark the Starting Line and the two lines on either side of the Sweet Spot with masking tape. The Sweet Spot begins eight feet from the Starting line and ends ten feet from the Starting line.

drawingofracetrack

Beginning Activity: Rubber Band Racers
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Beginning Activity: Rubber Band Racers
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Beginning Activity: Rubber Band Racers
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Beginning Activity: Rubber Band Racers
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Beginning Activity: Rubber Band Racers
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Beginning Activity: Rubber Band Racers
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Beginning Activity: Rubber Band Racers
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Beginning Activity: Rubber Band Racers
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Beginning Activity: Rubber Band Racers
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Beginning Activity: Rubber Band Racers
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Beginning Activity: Rubber Band Racers
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Beginning Activity: Rubber Band Racers
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Beginning Activity: Rubber Band Racers
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Beginning Activity: Rubber Band Racers
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Beginning Activity: Rubber Band Racers
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Beginning Activity: Rubber Band Racers
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Beginning Activity: Rubber Band Racers
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Beginning Activity: Rubber Band Racers
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Beginning Activity: Rubber Band Racers
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Optional Extras

Below are ideas for extending this topic beyond the Exploration and Activity you just completed.
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Video: Food is Fuel

You know that food contains energy — it’s the fuel that keeps your muscles moving. Calories — yes, the same calories that people talk about when they are trying to lose weight — are one way of figuring out how much energy food contains.

This video shows you one way that scientist can figure out how much energy is in a particular food -- by setting the food on fire!

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Language Arts Extension: Energize your students’ writing

Help your students see that energy is everywhere. Use these writing prompts to start them thinking about energy in their lives.

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Demo & Discussion: Balloon Blast Off

Inflate a balloon & pinch the neck closed. Let go & show your students what happens. Then ask them to explain where the energy that made the balloon move came from.

Here's an answer: You use your lungs (powered by energy from food you ate) to push air into the balloon. That energy stretches the rubber of the balloon, storing the energy. When you let go, that stored energy makes the air rush out, and the balloon goes flying.

If thinking about balloons inspires your students, consider building some balloon-powered cars

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Image & Video Credits

Mystery Science respects the intellectual property rights of the owners of visual assets. We make every effort to use images and videos under appropriate licenses from the owner or by reaching out to the owner to get explicit permission. If you are the owner of a visual and believe we are using it without permission, please contact us—we will reply promptly and make things right.

Lesson Image
Exploration
gas can by Alisha Vargas , used under CC BY
electric car by RevaNorge , used under CC BY-SA
batteries by Anton Fomkin , used under CC BY
cars in motion by Hamed Saber , used under CC BY
gas gauge by Chris Metcalf , used under CC BY
red car by Aske Holst , used under CC BY
swimming by Karen Blaha , used under CC BY-SA
Michael Phelps medal by Eric Draper
egg sandwich by Seph Swain , used under CC BY
fork by Fg2
pancakes by AimeePlesa , used under CC BY
omelet by Nathan Borror , used under CC BY
child flexing by Vicki C , used under CC BY
back sweat by Phil Scoville , used under CC BY
race car by Philip Roberts , used under CC BY
red balloon by Jason Baker , used under CC BY
spring by Eusebius , used under CC BY
Activity
checkered flag by meridican , used under CC BY