Day 17: Buggy Challenge

Today we did the buggy challenge. Each group was given a buggy and 8
minutes to determine the speed of their buggy. As groups finished, I
took away their buggy and paired them with another group and asked
them to predict where their buggies would have a head-on collision if
initially separated by 3 meters.

I’ve seen/done multiple variations of this challenge over the years.
Instead of a head-on collision, you can simulate a tortoise-hare
scenario and have kids predict where the fast buggy will pass the slow
buggy. You can make the tortoise-hare more challenging by telling
students something like “5 seconds after the tortoise passes the hare,
the hare wakes up and starts running” rather than giving kids a
separation distance. Metronomes (web-based or otherwise) work well

You could even start the buggies at a right angle to each other to
simulate collision at an intersection. Kids would have to determine
when and/or where to start the buggies.

My biggest problem is making sure everyone is engaged for most of the
time. What do you do?


About Frank Noschese

HS Physics Teacher constantly questioning my teaching.

6 responses to “Day 17: Buggy Challenge”

  1. climeguy says :

    Very cool, Frank.

  2. PKup10 says :

    I give each group two buggies for their own test to keep them on task.

  3. Paul says :

    Frank – Are you varying speed on the buggies? Also – do your buggies have the same alignment issues mine have?

  4. Anonymous says :

    @PKup10: So you give them both buggies, then take them away, then give them back? Do multiple groups test at the same time?@Paul: Yes, they have variable speed. I got metal battery slugs from PASCO. They don’t sell them directly, but they came as part of another item (Fan Cart, I think). I asked them kindly if we could purchase a few more. I don’t know if they would even have them anymore. Check out what Geoff does to vary the speed: I also wonder if you could use a 9V battery and wire with magnetic tips (or alligator clips) to make a really fast buggy.

  5. Richard H. says :

    I use two identical RC cars for the collision. One car is towing a load which slows it down. Students determine the speeds of the cars and then calculate where and when the cars will collide. The RC cars are nice because they allow for course corrections (we started the cars 10 m apart) and the students really get a kick out of driving them. We only have a few cars, so groups take turns with the equipment. I have several stations set up with different challenges and problems. After all groups have their predictions we head out into the hallway to run the collision and check our predictions.

  6. shertting says :

    Here is an example of the right angle, intersection collision. conduit serves as a siderail to keep the buggies straight. It also serves as an excellent bowling ball track.

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