The Returning Tin Can

Pedagogical guidelines and construction instructions

The machine consists of a rubber band that is twisted inside a cylinder shaped tin can. As the cylinder rolls across the floor, the twisted rubber band will make the can roll in the opposite direction as soon as it stops. Kinetic energy of the rolling cylinder is transformed to elastic energy stored by the rubber band and then back to kinetic energy as the cylinder rolls in the opposite direction.

Learning goals
When constructing the returning tin can several learning goals can be

  • To learn about physics and energy sources, in particular, kinetic energy and elastic energy. It can also be used to learn about energy transformation, namely transferring the kinetic energy in the moving cylinder into elastic energy stored in the rubber band and then back to kinetic energy as the cylinder starts rolling back.
  • For the youngest children the main goal is to let them experience the phenomena of energy transformation rather than learning abstract concepts like kinetic and elastic energy
  • To develop engineering competences of analysis and construction.
  • To learn mathematical concepts within the construction and assembly process, including shapes.
  • The machine is partly made of reusable material (the box). This is an opportunity to raise the awareness of sustainability and reusability.
  • Other soft-learning goals can be included; problem solving and creativity.

How to use the Returning Tin Car for STEM – click here

Máquina de movimento sem fim – Download the step by step guide in Portuguese here

La lattina che torna indietro- Istruzioni in italiano

Veiledning til konstruksjon og didaktisk bruk av den magiske boksen kan lastes ned på norsk her

Връщащата се консервна кутия – Педагогически насоки

Video tutorial