Solar Sprintby: Richard Tabor and Stephen Anderson

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In the “Solar Sprint” activity, students design, test, and race a solar-powered car built with Legos. The use of ratios is incorporated to simulate the actual work of scientists and engineers. This method encourages fourth-grade students to think about multiple variables and stimulates their curiosity when an activity doesn’t come out as predicted. This activity also integrates the study of electricity and motion into a discussion of alternative energy sources and means of transportation.

  • Elementary
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Reviews (2)
  • on Thu Oct 06, 2011 9:02 PM

Tabor and Anderson present the idea students are used to conducting investigations with a single variable, while reality presents multiple variables. The Solar Sprint activity allows students to design, test and race a solar powered car built from a Lego eLab Renewable Energy kit. They also learn about energy transfers and how the energy can be used to do work. The investigation covers six days with student tasks getting increasingly more challenging. The article outlines pretty clearly the progression of learning the students underwent.

Sandra Gady  (Renton, WA)
Sandra Gady (Renton, WA)

  • on Sun Aug 07, 2011 8:48 PM

This article is written for 4th grade students according to the authors, however, due to the level of the math and concepts being used (students need to know about friction and how to reduce it and how to construct a circuit)-it would be more appropriate at about 6th/7th grade level. It is very well written and would be an excellent activity to use. It takes approximately 6 school days to implement and requires the use of purchased LEGO solar car kits, which could become expensive if sets are not readily available.

Sue Garcia
Sue Garcia

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