My 8yo son is in the Cub Scouts.
He has a pinewood derby coming up next month and I would like to take this project and turn it into a fun, physics lesson for him.
For those not familiar, a pinewood derby is where you shape a block of wood into a car (or truck, or where ever your imagination leads you) and race it on a track against other cars.
The track looks something like this (not to scale):
The black curve represents the track. The peculiar, red triangle with wheels is the car. (Click this link to see the various options for the block of wood.)
So, a few talking points that come to mind are as follows:
- Gravity. Obviously w/o this the car would go nowhere when released.
- Friction. All wheels come with metal axles. We are allowed to use powered graphite to reduce the friction and make the car move quicker.
- Weight. The heaver it is, the faster it will move. However, there is a 5oz max weight the car can reach. Should the weight of the car be evenly distributed to maximize speed?
- Design. I imagine the design of the car is important to reduce drag...are there any designs from the previous link you would pick regarding that?
Any thoughts on how to elaborate on the items above?
Is there anything I haven't listed that would be helpful to talk about?