How to Create an Electric Car Model for Science

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By constructing an electric car model for science, you will discover things about friction as well as how gears work to create motion in simple machines. An electric car model is easy to construct and can be useful for learning science, whether you design it for a school project or just for the fun of it. What you will need for the project are simple materials that can be found in most homes or can be found with a trip to your local hobby or crafts store.

Things You'll Need

  • Balsa wood
  • Sharpie marker
  • Rubber band
  • Hobby saw
  • AA batteries and a battery holder or small toy solar panel
  • Sandpaper
  • Two straws
  • Four toy model wheels
  • Glue
  • Black wire
  • Red wire
  • Electric motor
  • Two small gears
  • Two sets of small toy model axles
  • Use the marker to outline the base of the electric car on the balsa wood. Design it to a minimum size of 3 1/2 inches wide by 7 inches long. However, you may design it to a larger size if you prefer.

  • Use the hobby saw to separate the car's base from the remainder of the balsa wood material. Use the sandpaper and smooth out all sides and edges of the car's base.

  • With the marker, make a sign at each of the four points that are going to be the wheel locations for the car. Align these points so that they are parallel to one another.

  • Glue the straws into place at the wheel points. Align them so they are parallel with the car's edge.

  • Insert the toy model axles through the straws. This fits the axles needed to later attach the wheels to. Following this, decide upon which axle will be the main driving axle. Usually the rear side axle is the driving axle in a car, but for a change of pace you may want to make the front axle the driving axle.

  • Place one of the two small gears onto the axle. This will be the main gear used for driving the car.

  • Fasten the toy model wheels onto each of the axles. Be certain that there is a wheel at each corner of the car or else the car will be unbalanced and will not work.

  • Glue the remaining small gear onto the electric motor. Allow about 30 minutes for the glue to fully cure before using the motor.

  • Fit the rubber band completely around both of the small gears. Fasten the motor onto the car's top at a point where the rubber band is pulled tight.

  • Attach the black wire around the negative terminal on the motor. This will be the negative post wire for the battery or toy solar panel. Fasten the red wire around the positive terminal on the motor. This will be the positive post wire for the battery or toy solar panel. Be certain to wrap the wire in a twist in order to fasten each one onto the motor.

  • Fasten the black wire to the negative side of the battery holder or toy solar panel. Connect the red wire to the positive side of the battery holder or toy solar panel. Be certain you don't cross these wires or the motor will not operate.

  • Glue the battery holder or toy solar panel to the car's top. Allow about 30 minutes for the glue to fully dry.

  • Insert the batteries into the battery holder. If you have chosen to use a toy solar panel instead of batteries, remove the plastic that is covering the solar panel. At this point the car is ready to be turned on and run if powered by batteries. If powered by a toy solar panel, the car is prepared to be moved into the sunlight and allowed to power up the motor. It will take about 15 minutes of direct sunlight to begin generating enough power to get the motor operating.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you have chosen to build a solar-powered electric car model, it is best to operate it on a hot day that has plenty of sunlight in order to get the best performance possible from the car.

References

  • Photo Credit toy car image by Radu Razvan from Fotolia.com
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