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Fan Cart


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    The Exploratorium

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Fan Cart

If a sailboat is stranded because there is no wind, is it possible to set up a fan on deck and blow wind into the sail to make the boat move? In this activity, learners explore this classic physics question by using simple materials to build a low-friction cart with a removable motor and a removable sail. Learners will observe the behavior of their cart and see Newton's Laws in action.

Quick Guide


Preparation Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Learning Time:
1 to 2 hours

Estimated Materials Cost:
Over $20 per student

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 18

Resource Types:
Activity, Model

Language:
English

Materials List (per student)


  • 1 masonite platform, 4 in x 12 in
  • 2 3/16 in wooden dowels, 6 in long, for axles
  • 3 3/16 in dowel, 7 in long, for mast & spars on sail
  • 1 wood block, 2 in x 2 in x 3/4 in thick
  • 2 wood blocks, 1 in x 3 in x 3/4 in thick
  • 2 drinking straws, cut to 5 in long
  • 4 CDs
  • 4 pegboard squares, 1 in x 1 in, cut so pegboard hole is in middle OR 4 1/4L beveled faucet washers (19/32 in O.D.)
  • 1 7.5 in cable tie with mounting head for screw AND 8 x 3/4 in sheet metal screw , Phillips OR 1 spring clip broom holder for motor mount AND 1 sheet metal screw or round head wood screw, approximately 8 x 3/4 in
  • 1.5-3 volt electric motor
  • 1 propeller, 2-blade, 6 in, Kelvin or PITSCO
  • 1 battery holder 2 AA batteries AND 9-volt battery cap OR 1 battery holder for 2 AA batteries with leads
  • 2 alligator clips
  • 2 AA batteries
  • 1 manila file folder, cut to 8 in x 8 in
  • Velcro, sticky-back, about 7 in
  • hot glue gun
  • hot glue sticks
  • electric drill
  • 3/16 in drill bit
  • 1/16 in drill bit
  • screwdriver

Subjects


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Electrical Engineering
      • Transportation Engineering
    • Technology
      • Transportation
  • Physical Sciences
    • Electricity and Magnetism
      • Electric Motors
      • Electric Circuits
    • Motion and Forces
      • Newton's Laws
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations

Informal Categories


  • Electronics
  • Model Building
  • Toys
  • Transportation

Audience


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities

Other


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access

By:

  • Rathjen, Don

Rights:

  • All Rights Reserved, Exploratorium, ©2003

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