Science Sunday - Car Races

What happens when you give four 5/6 yr olds cars to race in the name of science? Fun ensues.  That is what.  I love it when learning and fun mix. I tied this into the series by talking about friction and gravity but the real focus was on the necessity for repetition in testing our theories.

Each of the students brought their own matchbox car and I brought a track.  I told the kids they were going to race their cars but the key was they could only let go of their cars not push them. Before we started, I showed them the setup and took predictions.  As expected, they all predicted that the cars would go faster when the track was high and that the cars would also go faster when the track was high.

To explain multiple trials, I asked the kids if they were running a race with their friends and they lost would they believe that meant they would always lose? No right they would want to try again.  So that is what we are doing with the cars.

Then the races began.  We had to disqualify a couple of cars some times as they got pushed.  (We just reran the trial) We measured each trial with adding machine tape and a book between each set of trials to change the height of the ramp.

I think by the end the kids truly understood that the only pulling the cars was gravity and the more gravity could pull on the car (because it was higher) the farther the car could go. 
The neatest part came as we moved into the kitchen area which is not carpeted and tested it again with just one book.  The cars fairly flew across the room.  This time I got to explain how friction pulled against the car slowing it down.


  1. What a fun way to learn about gravity and friction. I wonder how tile would effect the cars.


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