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Car racing

Car Racing


Mathematics and Statistics

Curriculum level


Overview of unit

This unit uses car racing as a context to investigate patterns, relationships, and measurement. Through a series of investigations, students are encouraged to construct understanding about circumference and speed, and to explore factors that affect car performance.

Learning Outcomes

  • Use graphs, tables, and rules to describe relationships found in data
  • Use appropriate scales, devices, and metric units for length, weight (mass), angle, and time
  • Plan and conduct investigations using the statistical enquiry cycle
  • Determine appropriate variables and data collection methods
  • Gather, sort, and display measurement, data to detect patterns, variations, relationships, and trends
  • Compare distributions visually
  • Communicate findings, using appropriate displays

Gifted education focus

(How does this unit cater for gifted students?)

This unit caters for gifted students by encouraging enquiry based learning within intellectually stimulating topics. Open ended problems are posed where the focus is on students gathering data to test out hypotheses. Students are encouraged to interrogate the data to form their own generalisations. Aspects of the mathematics covered can be extended to provide more challenge for students who are working at a higher curriculum level.

Learning Sessions

PDF icon. Learning session one - One revolution - exploring how far a car wheel travels in one revolution and the number of revolutions for a journey (PDF, 105 KB)

PDF icon. Learning session two - Ramp rolling - exploring how far a car travels when rolled down a ramp onto different surfaces (PDF, 119 KB)

PDF icon. Learning session three - Wind me up - exploring distances travelled and speeds of wind up cars (PDF, 103 KB)

PDF icon. Learning session four - Slot car racing - exploring turning angles in slot car tracks (PDF, 137 KB)

PDF icon. Learning session five - Drag racing - exploring reaction times (PDF, 195 KB)

Assessment for learning and evaluation

As most of the learning sessions are based around investigations, formative assessment can be used to help students with the next steps in their learning, as well as inform the teacher of concepts that need clarifying.

Students should be expected to produce a summary of their investigation, with an emphasis on explanation of their decision making processes, for teacher to assess the thinking behind the investigation.

The learning sessions can be adapted to include more scaffolding for concepts (for example reviewing speed – what is measures and how it is calculated, with more work on basic problems before moving into investigation work) or extension to provide more challenge to students.

Resources to complement this unit

3 seconds following distance

Drag racing in Wikipedia

E-How: Homemade designs to build a rubber band-powered car

Hairpin turn in Wikipedia

HO slot car racing

Nascar Nationwide Series Site

Test the speed of your reactions

PDF icon. Worksheet (PDF, 87 KB)

Unit prepared by

Anna Martin