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Year 8 STEAM Energy Design Project

Last Wednesday, 22 May, our Year 8 Science Team scheduled the first ever Siena Grand Prix. As part of their Energy Unit, our Year 8 students worked collaboratively in teams and designed and built an elastic-band-powered model race car made from recycled materials. The race car teams used the Engineering Design Process to brainstorm, design and build their prototype, which they then evaluated and refined. This process was documented by each of the teams as a digital story. Within each class a winning race car was then established, and these six champion teams competed in the final Grand Prix Race. During this STEAM Energy Design Project, students explored the different disciplines of engineering, identified the different types of energy in their design and described the energy transformations taking place in the powering of these race cars. Congratulations to the winners of the Siena Grand Prix from Mr Alan Anderson’s Year 8C Science Class -  Alyssa Leong, Shannon Hamilton and Jasmine Tubb. Below are some reflections on the STEAM Energy Design Project written by participants of the Siena Grand Prix.

Student Reflections

Speed, distance, aesthetically pleasing designs and successful marketing - all of these qualities were strived for in the making of our car. But we knew it would be challenging to achieve when we were informed that it was to be powered by a rubber band. With extensive research, we were able to brainstorm and sketch our car design, before beginning construction with recycled materials gathered at our homes. We experimented with Adobe Illustrator to create effective advertisement to plaster on our car, the 'Kinetic Crusher'. When our car was crafted, we put it to the ultimate test run, improving our design and fixing flaws. Our completed design was able to secure us a position in the finals after we won first place in our class race. Unfortunately, our car did not place first in the Grand Prix, but Micayla and I enjoyed every moment of this experience. We were very proud of our extensive efforts which we both applied to this energy project, which awarded us with extra knowledge about the certain energies involved in making all controllable matter move and perform, especially vehicles. This knowledge may help us in the future, which will be dominated by technology, giving Siena’s Year 8 students a head-start into the bettering of mankind’s current and future contraptions which rely on energy to move and work.

Carly Walsh 8E

Our company ACKtion Jump designed a vehicle out of recycled products and materials which travelled a final distance of 9.35m, the furthest in the 8B race. Our car took multiple trials to reach the final product. We used different types of plastic, different shapes of bottles and different uses of elastic potential energy to create our power source. We used a variety of bottles, with our final product made from a small kombucha bottle. We learnt to persist and never give up, as we had multiple models and setbacks throughout this project. We enjoyed working together as a team and having the opportunity to experiment with a more interactive project. After all our hard work and persistence, it paid off and we were pleased to represent 8B in the Siena Grand Prix. Unfortunately, we didn’t win but we enjoyed the experience.

Anais Johnstone, Charlotte Madigan and Kaitlin Patterson 8B

We found constructing the vehicle challenging at the start as our car did not move. We had to plan carefully and brainstorm as a team to create a design that would be aerodynamic and heavy enough to travel. We had to make a lot of modifications for our car to achieve prime distance. We learnt about engineering and energy conversions and applied that to our car. We also learnt how to identify problems within our design and apply STEAM techniques to our design. We really enjoyed building our car as it was something we had never done before. 

Alyssa Leong, Shannon Hamilton and Jasmine Tubb 8C


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