FARMINGTON — Fourth-graders in Amy Tracy’s class at Cascade Brook School worked together in groups Tuesday to make cars using four wooden wheels, two straws, an index card and three Popsicle sticks.

“We need to make a car that actually moves and stays together in the process,” student Meadow Kerbo said.

The exercise was part of Family Energy Week, hosted by the University of Maine at Farmington’s Science Methods Class. UMF and Regional School Unit 9 are collaborating on different science, technology, engineering and math initiatives.

UMF students who are pre-service elementary school teachers worked with fourth-graders at the school. The elementary school students will attend a second session Thursday at UMF to participate in several activities, visit the university’s new biomass heating plant and Everyone’s Resource Depot.

Kerbo and fellow students in her group, Roy Elliot, Grace Willingham and Deven Pease, looked over the pieces they had available to create a car.

Willingham drew on paper what she thought the vehicle should look like. The others did the same.

They decided to use the index card as the body and the straws as two axles for the four wheels. They spaced out the Popsicle sticks on the index card and taped them down.

Pease placed the car on a cardboard ramp to see if it would go down it.

It didn’t work — the wheel fell off.

“You need to come up with a solution,” Tracy told them.

They taped the straw ends so the wheels wouldn’t fall off.

The students made another attempt. The car rolled down the ramp and curved a bit to the right.

Each tweak they made to the vehicle made it go a little straighter.

“If you bend both ends of the straws, it might work,” Kerbo said.

“What can we do?” UMF student Jennifer Pinkelman asked.

Cut it, Kerbo said.

“Bingo,” Pinkelman said.

Over at another table, student Kaylee Meaney and her group worked on their design.

“You should always take your time because if you rush too much, it won’t turn out the way you want it to,” she told them.

It was time to think of names for the vehicles.

Kerbo, Elliot, Willingham and Pease went with Flame Blaster. Other cars were named Venom GTX, Straw Axle, Speed Demon and The Dasher.

Students discussed potential energy where the vehicle stood still at the top of the ramp and the motion going down the ramp as kinetic energy.

Each group took a turn with their cars on the ramp to see which one went the farthest.

The distances ranged from 25 to 266.5 centimeters.

The Flame Blaster made it 163.5 centimeters.

Pinkelman told students to think about what worked and what didn’t work and develop solutions to fix the problems.

Students were tasked with making a second vehicle out of new material. It had to be a different design than the first one.

UMF Professor Carole Lee walked around, taking photos of the process.

The Flame Blaster group designed a tricycle for their second vehicle. They changed the name to Chita Hyper Speed.

Willingham did a rough sketch of what she thought the car should look like as they worked. The group put it together in a trial-and-error process.

It was time for the second run down the ramp. The group that named their first vehicle “The Dasher” kept the same name for their second car. They put two wheels on one axle.

The car rolled down the ramp, across the classroom floor and out the door to about the middle of the hallway — 900.5 centimeters.

Student Warren Allen couldn’t believe it.

They developed the design at the last minute because the first one they tried didn’t work, Allen said.

[email protected]


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.