Thirteen Ed Online
Lesson Plans
Recycled Racers
Overview Procedures for Teachers Organizers for Students

Procedures for Teachers is divided into four sections:
Prep -- Preparing for the Lesson.
Steps -- Conducting the Lesson.
Extensions -- Additional Activities.
Tips -- Managing Resources and Student Activities.


  • To build the inclined ramp -- materials per student:

    Wood board 12" wide and 6' long, or several boards with varied lengths.
    Wood strips to match length of boards.
    Heavy books.
  • To construct model racer cars -- materials per student:

    One 20 ounce soda bottle with cap.
    Corrugated cardboard.
    Drinking straws.
    Gram scale.
    Tape measure.
    1/8" dowels.
    Wheels from discarded toys or caps from large plastic bottles.
    Hot glue and glue gun.
    Paint (optional).

Computer Resources:
You will need at least one computer with Internet access to complete this lesson. While many configurations will work, we recommend:

-- Modem: 28.8 Kbps or faster.
-- Browser: Netscape Navigator 3.0 or above or Internet Explorer 3.0 or above.
-- Macintosh computer: System 7.0 or above and at least 16 MBs of RAM.
-- IBM-compatible computer: 386 or higher processor with at least 16 MBs of RAM, running Windows 3.1. Or, a 486/66 or Pentium with at least 16 MBs of RAM, running Windows 95 or higher.

Additional Software:

The Flash plug-in needed to view animated demonstrations can be downloaded for free at

For more information, visit What You Need to Get Connected in wNetSchool's Internet Primer.

The following sites should be bookmarked:

  • National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing

    The official NASCAR Web site includes news about the sport, race schedules, race results, and current standings. Technical information is featured in the "Garage."

  • That's Racin'

    This site covers NASCAR racing, and includes articles of interest to students. A section called "Ask Ernie" allows kids to send questions about racing via e-mail.

  • Ford Motor Company

    Ford's Web site features information on car racing, the history of the company, and environmental concerns, including the use of recycled materials. Several concept cars that incorporate racing technologies are described in detail.


    Time Allotment:
    This lesson requires approximately five class periods.

  • Introduce students to two comprehensive NASCAR Web sites: National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (http://www. and That's Racin' ( Ask the class to write down some factors that affect a real race. For example, complications with the car, track, or weather. Students should be as specific as they can.

    Students should continue their research by exploring the Ford Motor Company Web site ( Ask the students the following question: What are some of the ways the Ford Company is working to clean up the environment? They should have this question in mind while navigating and reading the site. If time permits, have one or more students print out the concept car Web pages. Use these to create a bulletin board display. Allow time for a brief class discussion to reinforce what students learned.

  • Students can increase their knowledge about modern automobiles by exploring the AutoInsight Web site ( Allow students time to conduct their own Web search for information about automobiles and racing. Tell students that their major activity for the week will be to construct a model race car from a soda bottle and other usually discarded materials. Give students the Task page, located in Organizers for Students, and divide the class into pairs.

  • Show students the Animated Demonstration for a step-by-step guide to the construction of a "Recycled Racer":

    1. Cut a corrugated cardboard base about the same length and width as a 20-ounce soda bottle. The base can either be rectangle or the same shape as the bottle.

    2. Use hot glue to attach the base to the bottle. Caution students that the glue and tip of the glue gun are HOT!

    3. Use small drinking straws as axle holders. Cut two pieces of straw about 2" long. Glue one piece to the front and one to the rear of the base.

    4. Use wheels from discarded toys or make the wheels from plastic bottle tops.

    5. Cut 1/8" dowels for axles. The dowels should be as long as the width of the base.

    6. Attach one wheel to the rear dowel, place it through the axle holder (straw), and then attach the other wheel. Repeat for the front two wheels.

  • Build a ramp with a wooden board and side strips. Attach strips to the sides of the board to prevent the cars from falling off the ramp. Set up the inclined ramp on a stack of heavy books. (The height of the ramp can be regulated by how many books you use.)

  • Show students the materials you have gathered for their use. Tell them that they may bring additional materials such as wheels and decals from home. Break students into teams of two. Review the requirements listed on the Task Page, in Organizers for Students. Students should begin to work on their racers. As they complete the vehicles, suggest that students test them and make changes to try to increase the distance the racer travels on the level floor.

    Test run the vehicles several times, varying the angle of the ramp. If there is more than one ramp in the class, have the students exchange ramps to vary the length of the ramp they use. Add several ounces of water to the bottle to show that the weight of the vehicle affects how far it travels. During testing, ask students to predict what will happen as each variable is changed. Make a chart on the board to record results. Ask students to analyze the results.

  • Tell students that the following day will be "Race Day" and that each team will face two challenges:
    Challenge 1: to get their vehicle to travel as far as possible.

    Challenge 2: to have it stop exactly at a goal line that will be marked on the floor.

    Students should have time to prepare for the race with the challenges in mind. To control the distance the racers travel, students will work with three variables: the weight of the car (vary amount of water in bottle), length of the inclined ramp (mark at 6" intervals), and the angle of the ramp (establish maximum elevation for the starting end of ramp).

    Allow students to use a computer and the software, Wood Car Rally (MECC, 612/569-1500), if available. This simulation challenges students in a similar race activity.

  • Hand out the Race Chart, in Organizers for Students, on which students will record the weight of the vehicle, the elevation of the top of the ramp, the length of the ramp, and the distance the race car traveled. The teams are now ready to begin the race.

    Challenge 1: Allow each student/team two trials and have them record their results. Then, the students should calculate the average distance of the two trials. The winning vehicle will be the one with the greatest average distance traveled.

    Challenge 2: Draw a line on the floor approximately 2/3 the length of the average distance traveled. This will be the goal line. Allow each team two trials, recording each one on the Race Chart. Measure the distance from the front of the vehicle to the stop line. Record data as before. The winning vehicle will be the one that comes closest to the stop line. For this challenge, let each team count its best run.

  • Have the class create a display of the model race cars. Discuss how changing the variables affected the distance traveled.


    Language Arts: Have students write a paragraph to describe what they learned during the activity.

    Art: Have students make sketches of their vehicles using markers or color pencils. Display them in the classroom.

    Social Studies: Have students investigate how the community handles disposal and/or recycling of automobile parts, including used oil, tires, and batteries.


    One Computer in the Classroom
    If you have access to one computer in your classroom, you can organize your class in several ways. Divide your class into two groups. Instruct one of the groups to do paper research while the second group is working on the computer. Bring in books, encyclopedias, etc., from the library for the group doing paper research. Lead the group working at the computer through an Internet search or allow the students in the class to take turns. (Always have a set of bookmarks ready for the students before they start working on the computer, in order to show them examples of what to look for.) When the groups have finished working, have them switch places.

    If you have a big monitor or projection facilities, you can do Internet research together as a class. Make sure that every student in your class can see the screen, then go to a relevant Web site(s), and review the information presented there. You can also select a search engine page and allow your students to suggest the search criteria. Again, bookmark and/or print the pages that you think are helpful for reference later.

    Several Computers in the Classroom
    Divide your class into small groups. Groups can do Internet research using pages you have bookmarked. Group members should take turns navigating the bookmarked sites.

    You can also set the class up so that each computer is dedicated to certain sites. Students will then move around the classroom, getting different information from each station.

    Using a Computer Lab
    A computer center or lab space, with a computer-to-student ratio of one to three, is ideal for doing Web-based projects. Generally, when doing Web-based research, it is helpful to put students in groups of three. This way, students can help each other if problems or questions arise. It is often beneficial to bookmark sites for students ahead of time.

    Overview | Procedures for Teachers | Organizers for Students