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Designing CO2 cars is a project for many middle school technology and science classes. The projects gives an opportunity for students to get hands on experience with the Design Process, working with tools and materials, and design and build for aerodynamics and manufacture a vehicle that can go very fast if even for a short bit of time.

To come up with the best design, you will need to gather information about the car, how it will move through the air, and how it will overcome friction and gravity. You will need to manufacture the car, usually made of wood, though some students use other materials with tools like a drill press, band saw and sander. During any project, you will need to manage your time carefully, and make sure that the project is done on schedule so that it can be delivered on time. Projects like this often have technical specifications, and this is something to pay attention to.

Make LOTS of quick sketches, called Thumbnail Sketches of possible car designs.
Base your car design on the best of your thumbnail sketches, keeping into account the aerodynamics of the design, and the car’s ability to overcome gravitational force and inertia.

Have you done the CO2 car project? Have you done this project as a student? Have you done this project as a teacher? What concepts does this project help teach? What could be done to make it really incredible? How can people doing the project use it to raise their awareness of the systems in their lives? Have you got great documentation of your work on this or other projects? How can the CO2 car project awaken automotive designers, pilots, aerodynamic and automotive designers? Just how fast do these cars go? What do you do with your CO2 car after race day has ended? If you were going to suggest ideas and information that might be useful to students or teachers designing and building rocket cars, what would you tell them? Add your comments to the discussion, and include your photos and videos to the Make Flickr pool.

Chris Connors

Making things is the best way to learn about our world.


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Comments

  1. Marrz says:

    I did this in 8th grade, the key is to be lightest, I helped the teacher cut the wood so I had 1st pick for the lightest Pine block of the pile.

    mousetrap cars are another afternoon fun

  2. Tim says:

    You know the text of a hyperlink is supposed to give some clue as to what it links to. Don’t just sprinkle them over the text like advertising bold. If there’s nowhere to put them sensibly just list the at the end.

  3. Christian says:

    I did this in middle school as well through a extra curricular program. I remember guys who went to competition talking about soaking the models in different glues and baking them in ovens or even microwaves to strengthen them. I still have my car in a drawer somewhere. I made it very thin at the front and just enough material at the rear to hold the cartridge. The front got busted after one run when the fishing line snapped and the wheel hit the side wall. This was one of my favourite and most memorable activities I did in school.

  4. kyle says:

    long time lurker, first time poster. signed up just to post on this topic.

    i was the new york state champion C02 racer for most of my middle and high school days. i was then succeeded by my little brother who held it for most of his middle and high school career. looking at pictures from nationals, we would have destroyed them. but NYS regents exams were the same week every year.

    i couldn’t find a list of competition winners but i still highly recommend this organization: http://www.tsaweb.org/

    at that level, we used balsa wood instead of pine or bass. but we really went extreme. poly axles, internal wheels for aerodynamics. we crafted our own wheels out of lightweight epoxy and rounded and hollowed them out using a lathe.

    glue was forbidden and when we baked them, it was to removed excess water vapor prior to sealing for weight. there was a minimum weight limit. and we’d get the cars 3 grams under then add paint till we were just on the line.

    they tried to disqualify my whole team one year based on being too light. we then proved that they hadn’t properly calibrated their scales.

    my fastest car was in middle school and was disqualified. you had to be able to complete 2 runs. it blew apart on the second run at 153mph.

    i still have all the documentation that had to be submitted (CAD drawings, photos, etc.) at my parents house. i’ll gladly scan them in next time i’m up there. hopefully inspire future CO2 racers to get away from that lame dragster design and really go wild.

    1. Chris Connors says:

      @kyle
      thanks for your story. Send along your pictures and other descriptions when you get a chance!
      chris

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  6. harry poter says:

    It is better to include too much information than not enough, as this minimizes the amount of back-and-forth communications. Be very specific and be sure to provide details, opposed to high-level actions.
    MEDICAL TECHNICIAN SCHOOLS

  7. Jay Dicke says:

    You did a very good job and your story was nice. I am in Industrial Tech class and our project is to make co2 car

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