Family STEAM Challenge: Pumpkin Tunnel

V1 Staff

We’re speeding into the fall season with a spooky Family STEAM Challenge! This activity invites families to design and build a pumpkin tunnel for a toy car.

This issue's STEAM topic:

Designing a tunnel so a toy car to speed right through a pumpkin

The Mission:

Use your engineering and architectural skills to get a car track just right to avoid a sloppy crash

The Challenge:

Can you create a ramp or track that will send a toy car soaring right through the middle of a pumpkin? Learn how height of the track, distance from the pumpkin, and car weight can impact the way this spooky science experiment turns out!

Materials you could use (but are not limited to):

• Pumpkin
• Tracks/ramps and toy cars
• Battery operated tea light candles

Incorporating the Arts:

This challenge can be as unique as you want to be. Add tea light candles to make it a glow-in-the-dark experiment. Color on the pumpkin to add your own theme. Pick a pumpkin, clean it out, and carve out two openings to make your pumpkin car tunnel. Design a tunnel or ramp and test out different heights and placements to get a car to fly right through the middle of the tunnel.

Questions to Mull Over:

• If the car doesn’t make it all the way through, why not? What needs to be changed?
• How far away can the ramp be from the pumpkin and still send the car soaring through it?
• How does using a heavier or lighter car change the experiment?
• How does gravity play a role in this experiment?
• Does adding more or less track affect the speed of the car?
• Would friction help or hurt the speed of the car?

The Family STEAM Challenge is all about experimenting with the ordinary to make the extraordinary! Chippewa Valley Family challenges your family to think and play together all in the name of science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics (that’s where the STEAM comes in).

Each challenge can be completed as a family or a group of friends in as little or as much time needed; however, most challenges can be completed within one sitting. The Family STEAM Challenge is also designed to get all ages involved through hands on experimenting. So get ready to put your collective thinking caps on to design a seriously cool apparatus made almost entirely out of reusable or recyclable materials laying around the house.