Fifth-graders race to learn about math, science

By Sarah E. Reynolds | Jun 11, 2014
Photo by: Sarah E. Reynolds Fifth-graders at Appleton Village School display their Linx cars after racing them Friday, June 6. Winner Ryan Wiley, center rear, holds up the checkered flag in celebration.

Appleton — Fifth-graders in Tammy King's class at Appleton Village School got the chance to show what their Linx cars could do Friday afternoon, June 6, as the cars were pitted against each other in the gym.

Each year, King's students design, build and race dowel-constructed cars, as part of a unit on motion, They learn to read blueprints and follow plans, and apply math, science and laws of motion. She provides the supplies to build the cars.

First, they create a scale blueprint for the car's frame, then they cut it out and assemble it, to their specifications. The next part of the assignment is to build a car that will roll down a ramp and go as far as possible, King said. Students decide on the size of their frame, the dowel length and the size of the wheels. They must show that their finished car conforms to their original blueprint, she said.

Then it is time to test the cars and fine-tune them. For example, a car whose axles are not parallel to the front of the car will not roll straight, King explained. Besides the technical problems of building their cars, students also have to solve problems of working together, sharing tools and materials, setting up a work station and cleaning it up.

Before Friday's competition began, the students walked around the gym one by one, displaying their cars, as King announced each car with its name and designer and read a description of the vehicle written by the student.

Each car had three chances to go down the ramp, the distance it traveled was measured, and the best distance counted for the competition. The audience of students, teachers and families cheered for each car as it went down.

After the race, all the fifth-graders sat together on the stage to have their picture taken with their cars by King.

The top five finishers, and their best distances were:

Gadget Chach by Ryan Wiley, 56 feet, 7 inches

Furious Destroyer by Ethan Cleaveland, 54 feet, 10 inches

Splatter by Lauren Linscott, 40 feet, 3 inches

Da Bobcat by Elias Porter, 34 feet, 9 inches

The Hobo by Marley Patten, 33 feet, 3 inches

 

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Sarah Reynolds
Sarah E. Reynolds is copy editor for the Courier Gazette and Camden Herald.
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Sarah E. Reynolds has been a reporter and writer for more than 20 years, winning awards from the Maine Press Association and other professional organizations. She loves to read, ride her ATV and play word games.

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