Science Students Complete Toy Car Lab

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Dalton Mix

Junior Cade Logan works to perfect the toy car track with his group.

Walls of lab safety posters, countertops of beakers and lines of desks make Ms. Michelle Hurst’s physics classroom appear like any other. However, the upturned chairs, toy cars and strips of rubber which cover the otherwise mundane lab tables make the room radiate with a unique sense of enjoyment, knowledge and experience.

After Ms. Hurst explains the instructions for the lab, students shuffle to the tables in the back of the classroom. They gather in groups of threes and fours and collect their materials – a foot-long piece of plastic “track” and a toy car.  

The classroom becomes the supply room. Although most begin by attaching the plastic black track to the top of two ring stands, others use triple-beam-balances, tape, textbooks and chairs to hold the track down.

Junior Sophia Robertson places two stools upside down on the lab table. With the help of her group and a pile of masking tape, the students secure the track.

“Ok let’s try it one more time,” junior Madison Wells said as she prepared to send the toy car down the track. “Five, four, three, two, one!”

The car races down the track and reaches halfway above the dip before falling backward. The students measure the heights with meter sticks and record their findings on the worksheet in front of them. No student seems to stand back from the construction of the elevated tracks.

Students become frustrated as they adjust the track to different heights.

“How do I get this to- oh my gosh,” Robertson said as she struggled to stick the long piece of black plastic to the top of two textbooks.

Students soon go from racing and recording to writing and thinking as they finish the initial experiment. One person reads the question on the worksheets and everyone builds answers from each other’s verbal responses.

“What if the height of point A and point B aren’t the height of the car, but the height of where we started?” Robertson said as her group struggled to respond to the questions.

As the class comes to a close, students take down their creations and return to their seats in the front of the room. Although chatter replaces scientific analysis and phones replace toy cars, the room remains full of a pleasant, unique learning environment.