How to make a rubberband powered car for physics

Written by aaron ratliff
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How to make a rubberband powered car for physics
Constructing a car that is powered by rubber bands can illustrate the most basic concepts of physics. (elastici image by Max Ferrero from Fotolia.com)

A rubber band car provides its creator with a great way to view stored energy, energy conversion and a whole host of other properties involving physics. Using a few common items that you probably already have around your home, you can build a fully functioning rubber band car. Building a rubber band car is a safe and simple to complete project that is perfect for kids of all ages.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • 2 compact discs
  • 5 by 6 inch piece of corrugated cardboard
  • 2 faucet washers
  • Poster putty
  • Rubber bands of various lengths and widths
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Masking tape
  • Wooden skewer (thinnest available)

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Cut the cardboard across the corrugations to make a centred notch that is 2 inches wide and 1 3/4 inches deep on one of the 5 inch sides. This will serve as the rear of your vehicle.

  2. 2

    Wiggle the wooden skewer through the cardboard where the notch was cut. Keep the skewer close to the edge, and make sure that equal lengths are sticking out of each side of the vehicle. This will function as your vehicle's axle.

  3. 3

    Locate where the wooden skewer goes across the notch and wrap a small piece of tape around the middle of it to create a catch for the rubber band.

  4. 4

    Place a washer into the centre hole of one of your CDs, and then slide them both onto one end of the wooden skewer. Use poster putty to secure the washer, CD and wooden skewer together tightly. The CD should rotate with the skewer, and function as your vehicle's wheel. Repeat this step for the second CD to complete wheel construction.

  5. 5

    Tape down one end of the rubber band on the top of the car, opposite the side the axle is on.

  6. 6

    Wrap the unattached end of the rubber band around the catch that was placed on the axle in Step 3. Turn the axle in a reverse motion until the tension on the band is at its maximum level without breaking.

  7. 7

    Place your vehicle on a flat surface and release the axle when you are ready to propel your car.

Tips and warnings

  • Use a CD that you are not concerned about damaging for the wheels.

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