Dayton Regional STEM Center
(937) 225-4598
200 S. Keowee St. Dayton, OH 45402

Protecting Precious Cargo

bumperIn most car accidents, the bumper is the first point of impact and defense. The better the bumper is designed, the less possibility for damage and injury. Impact barriers, such as the barrels you see at a highway exit or the barriers separating oncoming traffic, are also important for limiting vehicle damage or human injuries. While learning about forces and motion, students will investigate how energy can be transferred from a moving object to another object reducing the potential for passenger injury. Students will design impact barriers out of common material and determine which materials best reduce the force of impact. Students will look at the complex relationship between desired goals, such as cost, mass, width and effectiveness of the barrier they design.

Students are challenged to create a new highway barrier for cars. As they assume the roles of structural engineers, student teams will work collaboratively to research, design, and test the best material that will bring a toy car on a track to a complete stop with the least amount of recoil. Throughout this unit, students will apply science, technology, engineering, and math knowledge as they utilize their understanding of forces and motion and energy transfer to design an effective barrier. Designs will be evaluated by effectiveness, thickness, mass and cost.

Essential Questions:

How can changes in forces and motion affect the outcome of a collision?
Using knowledge of energy transfer, how can engineers make collisions safer?


Enduring Understanding: 

Forces acting on an object have the ability to change an object’s motion. The mass of an object also affects an object’s motion. Energy is transferred between objects, and that transfer can be controlled through engineering design. Fraction data can be collected, displayed and analyzed using line plots.