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Students Talk Trash about Trash Cars

posted Mar 23, 2018, 12:28 PM by Lee Stephens   [ updated Mar 23, 2018, 12:28 PM ]
Dr. Katie Gillespie and Maddie Welch
Trash talking in the world of sports is commonplace - in middle school science classes, not so much. Recently, at Seneca Middle School, however, a group of 8th grade students did a bit of trash talking of their own - this time about trash cars. The students were studying speed and the calculation of mass and friction in the science classes of Dr. Katie Gillespie. As an innovative way to learn and understand these concepts, students were asked to design and build their own miniature cars. The single restriction was to use only items considered to be trash – old soda cans and bottles, bottle caps, straws, damaged CDs, etc. The students then gathered to send their cars down a ramp and across the floor while measuring the distance travelled and the elapsed time in order to determine the car’s speed. Over the course of several runs, they also observed how different levels of mass and friction impacted those speeds. Afterwards, Dr. Gillespie observed that, “The students did a great job not only in building their cars but also in designing them. They showed great creativity in the design process and excitement in the performance results. It is always gratifying to see the kids grasp difficult concepts in such a tangible way.”