National Science Teaching Association: What Materials Are Used to Make NASCAR Race Car Parts?

NASCAR race cars are made up of many different parts, and these parts are made of many different materials.

Students first classify everyday objects based on the objects’ observable properties. After noticing that the objects can be grouped by the materials from which they are made, students sort the objects again. Next, they investigate how different materials can be formed into some shapes, but not others, and make claims about how the ability to be formed into certain shapes (structures) is what helps determine what that material can be used for (function). What can a NASCAR engineer use instead of glass for a windshield? Ask a second-grade student!


Suggested Investigation Materials (per team)

  • Plastics

– Lego

– Clear water bottle

– Food storage container

  • Metals

– Coins

– Paperclip

– Spoon

  • Foam

– Foam packaging peanuts

– Foam egg container

– 2-inch section – foam pipe insulation

  • Rubber

– Eraser

– Rubber band

– 2-inch piece of rubber tubing

– Poster Paper and Markers OR

– Whiteboard and Dry Erase Markers

Science Topics
Chemistry, Physics, Sports
Engineering Topics
Machines, Materials, Structures
K-6, Educator
Kindergarten, 1st Grade, 2nd Grade
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