Materials List: Wind-Powered Sail Cars

Each group needs:

Materials note: Depending on the number and extent of design modifications teams go through during the design-build-test-refine process on Day 1, they may require more straws, paper and tape than the amounts listed above (which are amounts for one design iteration), plus teams will each require one fresh set of supplies for competition day (Day 2).

A photograph shows two fingers of a hand holding a spherical wooden bead, tan in color, with a pencil-width hole through its center.
Figure 1. An example macramé bead.
Copyright © 2015 Eric Anderson, University of California Davis

To share with the entire class:

  • capability to show the class a short online video
  • masking tape, to mark the competition course
  • 9-inch electric fan (like the one shown in Figure 2), to provide the wind energy to push the sail cars, almost any fan will work as the wind source; having multiple fans may speed up the testing process
  • measuring tape, to measure how far the sail cars travel
  • gram scale or kitchen scale, to weigh cars in case of a tie; since the sail cars do not weigh much, typically less than 100 grams (~3.5 ounces) each, make sure the scale has a relatively small resolution; a gram scale or kitchen scale is best; a bathroom scale will not work
    A photograph shows a nine-inch round electric fan resting on a smooth floor.
    Figure 2. An electric fan serves as the wind source.
    Copyright © 2015 Eric Anderson, University of California Davis