This design challenge helps students explore NGSS concepts related to developing a model for iterative testing and calculating simple forces that create change in an object’s motion. Students will use the engineering design model to plan and execute their design. As there are many, many possible solutions, monitor and coach students on their process, measurements and calculations. While the student pages include samples for data collection, encourage students to create their own tools for recording and using data.

Students design and build a vehicle using upcycled materials that rolls forward and stops at a specific point 6 meters away. Students will collect data and refine their designs based on measurements and observations obtained by conducting functional tests until the vehicle rolls the specified distance carrying a load.

Grade Levels: NGSS MS (Grades 6-8)

Educational Outcomes:

Students will:

  • Engage in the design process
  • Build a vehicle made out of various materials
  • Conduct functional tests on the vehicle
  • Refine the design until the vehicle rolls a specific distance while carrying a load

Performance Expectations (NGSS MS-PS2-2, MS-ETS1-4)

Plan an investigation to provide evidence that the change in an object’s motion depends on the sum of the forces on the object and the mass of the object.

Develop a model to generate data for iterative testing and modification of a proposed object, tool, or process such that an optimal design can be achieved.

Materials

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Essential Question:

Can you and your team design a rolling vehicle from upcycled materials that can stop within a distance of 6 meters while carrying a load of 0.5 kg?

Scenario:

Autonomous vehicles are on the rise. From our daily commute to our exploration of the oceans and our solar system, autonomous vehicles must be engineered to perform without human interactions. Scientists use autonomous vehicles in current and future space missions to Mars where the terrain can be very dangerous. The vehicle must be able to stop quickly in case the astronauts encounter an obstacle. Commuters may very soon find improved safety in their daily trip to work because autonomous vehicles are designed to stop before a collision.

You and your team of engineers are tasked with designing a vehicle that performs a certain task with out human interaction.

 

Criteria & Constraints

Engineers design solutions to problems an evaluate them using a set of defined criteria. Criteria are the desired features or abilities of a design solution often describing the purpose and standard that the solution must meet.Constraints are limitations placed on possible design solutions such as budget, size, time, space, or available materials. The criteria and constraints for this design challenge are as follows:

Materials

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Student Resaources

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Prototype, Test, Collect Data and Iterate

Test Your Design:

Test the vehicle for structural integrity, functionality, usefulness, and consistency using the criteria and constraints. Make adjustments and modifications where necessary and record any changes and/or additional methods or approaches applied. Use the checklist below to ensure criteria and constraints are followed. Create a table to collect your data. Consider the following example in designing your data collection table. What other variables will you need to test for your unique design?

Distance traveled Weight of vehicle w/o load Weight of load Structural Notes Other Notes
Test #1
Test #2
Continue to test as needed until you succeed!

Use Your Data to Evaluate Your Solution:

  • Vehicle rolls easily
  • Vehicle rolls and stops at 6 m.
  • Vehicle carries 0.5 kg load
  • Vehicle has structural integrity (does not fall apart with each use!)
  • Vehicle is made with 5 or more different materials
  • Vehicle completed on time (deadline)

Student Self Assessment

Present Your Solution:
Demonstrate and describe the production of the vehicle. Include the results of functional tests and ways the tests informed refinement of the vehicle design. Provide examples of how the team followed the steps in the engineering design process. Describe how the current vehicle design might positively impact a space mission or commuter traffic.

Reflection:
Think about and discuss the following questions with the design team

  1. Is the vehicle design the best solution? Why or why not?
  2. What could be done differently in future design attempts?
  3. What specifically could be changed or added to make it better?
  4. Describe any challenges with following the design process and how they were overcome by the team.

 

 

Performance Expectations (NGSS MS-PS2-2, MS-ETS1-4)

Plan an investigation to provide evidence that the change in an object’s motion depends on the sum of the forces on the object and the mass of the object.

Develop a model to generate data for iterative testing and modification of a proposed object, tool, or process such that an optimal design can be achieved.