Cabarrus

Students study car crashes, safety

Dylan Solano, left, 6, watches as Aldo Salado, right, 6, pushed the car down the track as students in Lindsey Plunkett's first-grade class at Coltrane-Webb STEM Elementary School participated in the 2015 4-H National Youth Day experiment.
Dylan Solano, left, 6, watches as Aldo Salado, right, 6, pushed the car down the track as students in Lindsey Plunkett's first-grade class at Coltrane-Webb STEM Elementary School participated in the 2015 4-H National Youth Day experiment. Marty Price

Cabarrus County students from kindergarten to eighth grade took part in the 2015 4-H National Youth Science Day experiment called Motion Commotion at several schools in Cabarrus County on Oct. 7.

Beverly Bollenbecker, program associate with the 4-H, said it was the eighth annual 4-H National Youth Science Day, with millions of children participating worldwide. “It’s the world’s largest youth-led science experiment, and the numbers continue to grow,” she said.

The first part of the experiment was the same for each age group, but the results and solutions were different.

Using clay to make people who would ride in toy cars, each team was challenged to make a ramp, provide the speed and then add an object or objects for a collision and record their findings. Exploring the principles of physics – speed, momentum and kinetic energy – the experiment investigated the science behind car crashes.

Elise Horn, 6, was working with her team in Lindsey Plunkett’s first grade class at Coltrane-Webb STEM Elementary School in Concord when she had an idea. Her group thought the car was coming off the track because of too much speed, so she wanted to try putting a small piece of clay on each wheel to slow it down.

The car lurched forward, then turned sideways as it threw off the clay from the tires and came off the track. “That’s OK Elise, it was a good idea that didn’t work,” said Plunkett. “Who has another idea?”

Then students talked about the effects of distracted driving, which can lead to higher speeds and more collisions as well. “If we lift the ramp, then (the car) would go faster,” Jude Coons, 6. “If it went too fast, it turned and crashed. I learned that if I start driving, I need to pay attention or I’ll crash.”

In Christine Archambault’s fourth grade class, the ramps were steeper and the solutions more advanced.

“His head came off,” said Luke Wang, 9, after the car ran into the science book at the end of his group’s track. “With no seat belt or air bag, the driver will hit the steering wheel and be injured,” he said as he started work on making a restraint from construction tape.

Cabarrus County Schools that participated were Coltrane-Webb STEM Elementary School, J.N. Fries Magnet School and Patriots STEM Elementary School, along with all 19 Cabarrus County Kids Plus after-school programs.

Kannapolis City Schools that participated were Jackson Park Elementary School, Woodrow Wilson Elementary School, Fred L. Wilson Elementary School, Forest Park Elementary School and Kannapolis Intermediate school.

Bollenbecker said that the experiment, held during national 4-H week, isn’t just to educate the children about the science of car collisions and distracted driving. She hopes the children will be able to educate the community about safe practices, but also “gain awareness for themselves about texting and walking, or skateboarding or even riding a bike. To learn how much it really affects what is around them when they are distracted.”

Marty Price is a freelance writer: martyprice53@gmail.com

Learn more:

For information about the 2015 4H National Youth Science Day experiment Motion Commotion, go to www.4-h.org/4-h-national-youth-science-day/

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