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The relationship between the firmness of a car's suspension system and the car's speed around bends Featured science projectScience project video

Materials

Materials:
-    Tamiya customized remote-control sports car (or any other suitable brand for a  customizable remote controlled car which runs on a circuit)
-    Springs of different levels of firmness, for the remote control car
-    Electronic metronome
-    Stopwatch
-    Blank paper and pen to record the time
-    40 AAA batteries (or batteries that suit the remote control car model)

Procedure

1.    For this experiment, the independent variable is the resistance of the spring. The dependent variable is the speed of the car. The constants in this experiment include: the total weight of the remote control car, the type of battery used and the total distance of the race course.

2.    The car will run 3 different courses – a straight course, a clockwise course and a counter-clockwise course.

3.    All 3 courses should cover the same distance.  So, the car will run along the straight course once and 4 times around the circular course, first in a clockwise direction, then in a counter clockwise direction.

4.    Start with the springs with the lowest resistance.
a.    Install the lowest resistance spring into the car correctly (according to the specified instructions)
b.    Ensure the car is fitted with new batteries

5.    Set the car at the start line of the straight course.

6.    Start the timer and power the car on full throttle. Let the car run the set distance.

7.    Stop the timer when the car has finished its course. Record the time taken.

8.    Repeat for 2 more time trials.

9.    Replace the batteries of the car.

10.    Set the car at the start line of the clockwise course.

11.    Repeat steps 6 to 9, this time, go 4 laps to cover 40 meters.

12.    Set the car at the start line of the counter-clockwise course.

13.    Repeat steps 6 to 9, this time, go 4 laps to cover 40 meters.

14.    Adjust the remote control to maintain a low speed.

15.    Repeat steps 6 to 13, now on low speed.

16.    Then, repeat steps 4 to 15 using springs of different resistance.

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Complexity level:
4
Project cost ($):
40
Time required:
2 hours to prepare the car for experiment, 1 hour to run the experiment.
Material availability:
Remote control cars and springs are available from recreational/hobby/toy shops. Some cars run on fuel while others run on batteries.
Safety concerns:

Ensure that the cars are run in a safe location. Never do so on an actual road.