Racing To The Finish

Jennifer Harvey

Unit Title:
Racing to The Finish



Estimated Duration:
8 Days

Unit Activities:
Activity 1:How far,how fast?
Activity 2: Student Practice Problems
Activity 3: Paper car CRASH!
Activity 4: Paper car CRASH extension 

Background Knowledge:
Students need to be able to put data in a table. Students should know how to make a graph. Students should know how to use basic formulas. 

Additional Resources:

Website for Viscosity Lab 

Website for Paper car CRASH Activity 


Jan 2013

The Big Idea

Safety and speed!  

Automobiles are used in our everyday lives. The speed at which these automobiles travel at is crucial to the safety of everyone. Also, other than automobiles, there are several other things that use the idea of speed, such as wheelchair ramps. 

Essential Question
  1. What are some factors that affect an objects speed? What speed is too fast? What speed it too slow?

Students tend to struggle with problems that deal with distance, rate and time. Students have a hard time seeing the connection between the 3. This unit is designed to give the students a more hands on and a more engaging way to working with math calculations involving rates. Students will learn how to find various rates by changing the slope of a ramp. 

The Challenge

Students will create a paper car that will protect an egg. The car will go down a series of ramps with different slopes. Students will make connections between the slope of the ramp and the rate of the car.

The Hook

you-tube video

Guiding Questions
  • What is rate? 
  • What is speed? 
  • What is distance? 
  • What is time? 
  • How are distance, rate and time related? 
  • How can we figure out how fast an object is moving without any devices that automatically tell us? 
  • What types of things affect speed?  
ACS (Real world applications; career connections; societal impact):  

Wheel chair ramps are crucial to people who have disabilities. The slope of the ramp affects the rate at which the person will descend down the ramp. Therefore, the construction of the ramp is crucial to making sure that the handicapped person does not get hurt while using the ramp. The person constructing the ramp would need to do some math calculations, include slope and speed. Some careers that would use the application of rates would be construction engineers, civil engineers, and manufacturing engineers. 

Engineering Design Process (EDP): 

Students will create a paper car that will carry and protect an egg down a ramp. Students will need to brainstorm their ideas, come up with a design, test their design, re-design, and make an evaluation at the end. Students will go through a series of math calculations along the way. Students will also need to complete a report of the engineering design process and the steps they took to complete the challenge. 


Students have a hard time understanding that rate and speed are the same thing. Students also have a hard time understanding that rates have 2 units (distance and time). 

Assesment Test:

Pre and Post assesment test