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How Can Race Car Bumpers Store Energy?

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How Can Race Car Bumpers Store Energy?

Is Lesson Plan Physical Science Middle School

Sensemaking Checklist

Lesson Overview

Grade Band 6-8

Students are presented with the phenomenon of car design features that increase driver safety during high-speed collisions. Students analyze a high-speed collision to track the race car’s energy between two points in time: just before the collision to the end of the collision. Students’ noticings and questions create the need to investigate different materials’ ability to store energy by changing size and shape (deforming). The lesson continues with students trying to determine how the structure (shape) of specific racecar design features contribute to a material’s ability to store energy (function).

Note that there is a typo in the PDF under PS3.B. Below is the correct DCI language.

When the motion energy of an object changes, there is inevitably some other change in energy at the same time.




Teacher Materials

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Biggest & Hardest NASCAR Crashes Of 2021

Student Materials

Per group

  • Ball (golf, tennis, baseball, softball, solid rubber, hollow rubber, foam [dense], steel)
  • meter stick
  • Decibel Meter Sound Detector (free app for phones)
  • Infrared camera or infrared thermometer (optional)
  • Painter’s tape

Per student

Asset 2