Byron-Bergen students use engineering principles to break rubber band car world record
Written by Alex Feig on December 11, 2018
(l-r) Logan Fregoe, Noah Clare, Adam Piper, Ian Pulcini, Kendall Pape, and Carter Kuipers Photo credit: Craig Schroth
Byron, NY – Many people dream of joining the ranks of record-holders in the Guinness Book of World Records. Though most of these dreams go unrealized, Craig Schroth’s students are using engineering skills to earn Guinness recognition.
Schroth, a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) lab teacher at Byron-Bergen Elementary School, challenged his sixth grade students to use simple machines -a wheel and axle- to build vehicles powered only by a wound up rubber band. Students used three class periods to methodically make changes and improve their designs.
“We moved the rubber band further forward,” explained sixth grade student Adam Piper. “Then we added more rubber bands because the more we could wind it up, the further (the car) would go.”
In addition to the number of rubber bands, the design team added bigger wheels wrapped in rubber bands for increased road friction and elongated the distance between axles.
On November 9, the team of Noah Clare, Logan Fregoe, Ian Pulcini, and Adam Piper broke the standing World Record with a run of 1,071 cm. According to the Guinness website, the current record for distance traveled by a rubber band car is 895 cm and was set on July 13, 2015.
“This STEAM design challenge not only involved real-world problem solving within the physical sciences, but it also included improving their design by collecting data through trial and error,” explained Schroth. “Most groups were able to improve on their personal best of distance traveled by utilizing the engineering design process. All of the participating classes did a great job.”
Inspired by the sixth grade success, the fifth grade team of Carter Kuipers and Kendall Pape surpassed the previous winning distance by an additional 228 cm on November 15, 2018 making 1,299 cm the longest distance achieved.
Schroth has contacted the Guinness organization to have the distances submitted for official approval. All of the participating students eagerly await a response.
(l-r) Adam Piper, Ian Pulcini, and Noah Clare prepare their rubber band car for a test run Photo credit: Gretchen Spittler
The 6th grade team tests their rubber band car in the hallway outside the STEAM lab Photo credit: Gretchen Spittler
The 5th (left) and 6th (right) grade teams prepare to race head to head