Make a battery-powered toy truck from popsicle sticks

Written by grahame turner
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Make a battery-powered toy truck from popsicle sticks
Popsicle sticks are sometimes called tongue depressors or craft sticks. (Dynamic Graphics Group/Dynamic Graphics Group/Getty Images)

Popsicle sticks are simple objects, but they have long been used as creative crafting supplies because they are a uniform size and easy to stick together. They are also lightweight but strong, making them ideal for affixing an item that is heavy--such as an electric motor, complete with wires and a battery. To make a battery-powered toy Popsicle stick truck, you need a little crafting work, some wiring--and lot of glue.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • Popsicle sticks (approximately 4 to 20)
  • Craft glue
  • Plastic drinking straw
  • 1/4-inch wide Rubber band
  • 1/8-inch Wooden dowel or skewer
  • Wooden spools, toy wheels.
  • 9v electric motor
  • Pulley wheel
  • Wires
  • 9v battery
  • 9v battery wire
  • Cardboard or card stock (optional)
  • Switch (optional)

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Instructions

  1. 1

    First, build a rectangular frame for your car. Lay two Popsicle sticks parallel to each other, about 2 inches apart, and dab glue on each of the four ends. Place two more sticks across the ends to form a rectangle. Let the glue dry for 10 minutes.

  2. 2

    Cut the straw into four 1-inch lengths. Cut the dowel or skewer into two 4-inch lengths. Slide the straw sections onto the skewers or dowels, placing them about 2 inches apart with the gap in the middle. Loop a rubber band around one of these units, positioning it between the straws.

  3. 3

    Glue the straws to the bottom of the frame, so that the skewers or dowels (which become the car's axles), are parallel to each other. The rubber band should be in the middle of the car. Let the glue dry for 10 minutes.

  4. 4

    Position the wheels on the ends of the axles. Glue the wheels in place.

  5. 5

    Glue the pulley wheel to the armature on the motor, which is the rod that turns when the motor is active. Let this dry for 10 minutes.

  6. 6

    Pull the elastic around the pulley and glue the motor to the frame so that the rubber band is taut. Stick the motor to the side of the frame, near the front.

  7. 7

    Cut two lengths of wire. Strip off just enough insulation from the ends of the wires to attach to the terminals. Push one end of a wire through one terminal on the motor, and twist the wire around itself to secure. Repeat with the other terminal. Look at the motor for positive and negative (+ and -, respectively) markers, and note which wire is which.

  8. 8

    Twist the positive wire onto the 9v battery connector with the positive (+) designation. Repeat with the negative wire from the motor to the negative (-) terminal on the battery.

  9. 9

    Attach the battery to the battery connector. The motor should start turning, pulling the axles and making the wheels turn. The axle that is turning is called the "drive axle." To stop the car, unplug the battery.

Tips and warnings

  • The base of your model car won't look very car-like. You can build a model car body using more Popsicle sticks or cardboard, which will make the toy car look more like a real car.
  • If you want to leave the battery plugged in and turn the car on and off with a switch, don't wire the negative lead from the motor to the battery. Instead, attach it to the terminal on a switch. When you flip the switch, the motor will turn on and off.

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