Exploring Variables While Testing & Improving Mint-Mobiles

Type of Resource



Students design, build and test model race cars made from simple materials (lifesaver-shaped candies, plastic drinking straws, Popsicle sticks, index cards, tape) as a way to explore independent, dependent and control variables. They measure the changes in distance travelled with the addition of mass to the vehicles. Students also practice the steps of the engineering design process by brainstorming, planning, building, testing, and improving their "mint-mobiles."

Performance Expectations

3-5-ETS1-1   Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.

3-5-ETS1-2   Generate and compare multiple possible solutions to a problem based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.

3-5-ETS1-3   Plan and carry out fair tests in which variables are controlled and failure points are considered to identify aspects of a model or prototype that can be improved.