The culminating project for our transportation unit was for students to design their own racecar and compete in a round-robin race-off. I was inspired by a workshop put on by a local Junior Solar Sprint organization back in the spring of 2006 and the project has gone through several variations over the years. Students have created cars that ran on solar power, gravity, and balloon-power, using recycled materials readily accessible to them. For example, juice cartons, shoe boxes, and old flip flops serve as sturdy chassis. CDs with rubber band treads, bottle caps, and even small styrofoam spheres have doubled as wheels. From simple to complex, flat to multi-tiered, to Easter bunny themed, student designs were limited only by their imagination and whatever constraints happened to be imposed for that year’s assignment.
The Annual Sixth Grade Speedster Car Rally wrapped up the assignment. Usually held over a couple days, the randomly-seeded round-robin single elimination competition pitted pairs of students (or teams of students) against each other in a best-of-three series. The first team to cross the finish line OR the car that went the farthest (if no one got to the finish line) was declared the winner. The winners of each science class were brought in for one final race to determine the overall sixth grade champion.