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.