The Eco-Car 1

Pedagogical guidelines and construction instructions

The Eco-car 1, allows teachers to speak about aspects of mathematics and physics.

  • Mathematics
    • Counting: five wooden sticks, one straw (will be divided into three parts), four bottle tops, two skewers
    • Measuring length: Sticks, straws and skewers have to be cut into pieces of given length (3cm, 4cm, 10 cm etc.). Older children will use a ruler, younger children can use fingerbreadth and span. Direct comparison to make a hole in the bottle top that is ‘just’ big enough for the wooden skewer to pass through and still be tight.
    • Designing (shapes): The car’s chassis has the shape of an equilateral pentagon with adjacent right angles. If the rear part is a square, the front part will be an equilateral triangle, which has angles of 60°. It has mirror symmetry.
    • Locating: use spatial concepts like rear, front, under, top, bottom, centre (find the centre of a circle), around, rotation (the motion of the axles and the wheels), translation (the forward motion of the car)
  • Physics
    • Energy: different types of energy:
      • work (The child does work by applying a force to the rubber band.)
      • elastic energy: potential energy due to the deformation of the rubber band
      • rotational kinetic energy (the rotation of the wheels)
      • translational kinetic energy (the forward motion of the car)
      • thermal energy (heat)
    • Force: The child uses force to deform the rubber band.
    • Rolling friction: the force resisting the motion when the wheels roll on a surface
    • Conservation of energy: Energy can be converted but not destroyed. The child’s work is converted into elastic energy (of the rubber band), elastic energy into rotational energy (of the axles and wheels), rotational energy into translational energy (of the car), translational energy into thermal energy (the wheels and the ground become slightly warmer through friction)
    • Centre of mass: In order to find the centre of a wheel, the children can balance the bottle top on the tip of a skewer.


Children play with the Eco-Car 1