Electro-Wheels: Unleashing the Power of Energy Conversion with a DIY Mini Car!

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Does your child like things that go fast? They will love this experiment!

The Electro-Wheels Mini Car experiment works by making a simple car with movable axles and wheels, then attaching an electrical component (the DC motor, battery holder, and fan) to make the car go. This experiment couples engineering (building a car) with technology (using electricity to make the car go).

It’s also really fun to experiment with how you can make the car go faster. Do you need less weight on the car? Different bottlecaps for the wheels?

I hope you have a great time with this one; we sure did!

How to make the Electro-Wheels Mini Car engineering experiment

Supplies you will need

For this experiment, you will need the following:

I bought this kit that has the motor, fan blades, motor mounting bracket, and battery holder all in oneOpens in a new tab.. It’s cheaper than buying the individual pieces.

Supplies needed for the Electro-Wheels Mini Car experiment

Before you start

Please exercise caution when you are drilling holes into the bottle caps and while playing with the electrical components of the car.

Instructions

Here is how to do this experiment with your child:

Step 1: Build your cardboard car

Start by cutting your cardboard down to 4″ by 2″, the straws to the width of the cardboard (2″), and the skewer to about 4″ each. Also, using a pair of scissors, cut a small hole in the middle of each of your bottle caps, the size of the skewers.

Using tape or hot glue, adhere the straws to the bottom of the cardboard. Don’t place the straws too close to one another because we need clearance for each of the wheels.

Place the skewers inside of the straws, then place the wheels on the skewers.

Tape two straws on the underside of the cardboard
Insert the skewers into each straw
Place the bottle caps on each skewer end

Step 2: Attach the battery holder to the car

Next up, we’re going to add the electrical portions to our car.

Using your hot glue gun, add a line or two of hot glue on the bottom of the battery holder, making sure that you do not get glue in the holes or along the electrical wires.

Place the battery holder pack at the front of the car to help offset the weight of the motor.

Adding a line of hot glue on the bottom of the battery holder
The battery holder on the front side of the car

Step 3: Attach the motor and fan to the car

Place the DC motor inside of the motor housing block, then the fan blades onto the motor.

Once the motor is ready, connect the motor to the battery holder wires. I threaded each of the wires into the ports on the motor to connect the two.

Finally, add a small amount of hot glue to the bottom of the motor housing and place it on the back of the car. Make sure that there’s enough clearance for your fan, otherwise, it will hit the back of the car!

Placing the DC motor inside of the motor housing
Adding the fan blades to the motor
Threading the wires from the battery holder into the motor ports
Adding a small amount of hot glue to the bottom of the motor housing
Car complete!

Step 4: Insert batteries and go!

Before placing your batteries into the battery holder, open the tab on the battery holder. This ensures that the connection is broken and there is no power to the vehicle yet.

Place your AA batteries into the battery holder and close the tab to ensure that everything works properly (your fan blades should be spinning).

Battery holder tab open
Two AA batteries placed in the battery holder with the tab open
Closed battery holder tab to ensure the fan blades spin
Watching the car in action!

The engineering behind the Electro-Wheels Mini Car experiment

This experiment teaches:

  • Basic engineering concepts
  • Electrical safety awareness
  • Energy conversion

How it works

The Electro-Wheels Mini Car experiment works by making a simple car with movable axles and wheels, then attaching an electrical component (the DC motor, battery holder, and fan) to make the car go.

This experiment couples engineering (building a car) with technology (using electricity to make the car go).

Basic engineering concepts

Children will gain a basic understanding of engineering principles such as how motors work, how electrical circuits are connected, and how energy is transferred from the battery to the motor.

The child learns about various mechanical components like wheels, axles, and fan blades. They understand how these parts work together to create motion.

They learn how to create a basic electrical circuit to power the motor. This involves connecting wires, understanding positive and negative terminals, and completing a closed loop for electricity to flow.

The child gains insight into how DC motors function. They learn that when electricity flows through the motor, it generates a magnetic field that produces motion.

Electrical safety awareness

They will learn about basic electrical safety practices, such as handling wires, using a soldering iron (if applicable), and understanding the importance of insulation.

They learn about the risks of electrical shocks and how to minimize them. This includes keeping hands dry, avoiding contact with exposed wires, and not tampering with live circuits.

They are introduced to safe practices for handling batteries, including not short-circuiting them, avoiding punctures, and disposing of them properly.

Energy conversion

The project demonstrates how electrical energy is converted into mechanical energy, which is a fundamental concept in physics and engineering. When the child connects the battery to the motor, they observe that the electrical energy is converted into mechanical energy. They can see this transformation as the motor starts spinning.

They learn that the battery stores electrical energy, which is essentially the ability to do work through the movement of electrons.

More engineering experiments that ZOOM to try out with your child

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