Transport Engineering Challenge: Rubber Band-Powered Car

Who wants to make their own car that doesn’t pollute, doesn’t need electricity, and has an unlimited power source? Elon Musk, watch out, here comes the Rubber Band-Powered Car!

Here are some cool images of what we’re talking about.

Now, Ladies and Gentlemen, Start Building!


What you’ll need What could you use?
WheelsBottle tops, cardboard circles, K’nex/Lego parts, old CDs
AxlesSkewers, toothpicks, K’nex/Lego axles
Elastic EnergyRubber bands, hair ties, elastic
Car BodyCardboard, ice block sticks, a (light) plastic bottle
Something to stick it all togetherGlue, tape, extra rubber bands, binder clips, paper clips

Here are two examples of rubber band-powered cars to get you started:

When you stretch a rubber band it stores potential energy. Specifically, it stores elastic potential energy—the type of energy stored when a material is deformed (stretched in this case). When you release it all, that stored energy must go…somewhere! For example, if you launch a rubber band across the room, the potential energy is converted to kinetic energy (the energy of motion).

By attaching your rubber band to a simple machine – the wheel and axle – you can build a rubber band-powered car.

Here’s one that has already been made. Use it as your example – you do NOT have to copy it, it’s only a prototype (the first one made). Be creative, try things out, make mistakes and have fun!

It will take a little engineering, and a lot of testing to get your vehicle working. Don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t work the first time – inventors keep going and keep trying!

We’d love to see what you come up with – you can email us photos or videos of your cars to motat.fun@motat.org.nz.

Extra Challenges:
• Make your car go faster
• Make your car go slower
• Can you make a different vehicle? (think boat, bike, or plane)
• Can you power your car differently? Try using wind or electric energy!
• Redesign your vehicle for a different purpose, like carrying your slippers!