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Testing cars in AP Physics

Students in Lenore Horner’s AP Physics class tested the cars they built in teams to see if they were able to successfully convert gravitational potential energy into enough motion to get their cars to move down the science hallway.

The students built the cars out of wood and used weights on a pulley and string to propel the cars. They had to consider the stability of their cars, the friction between the wheels and the floor, and how the diameter of the pulley is related to the wheels.

“The important aspect of any building project is to highlight the gap between simple models we teach that make for nice calculations and reality, as well as the gap between the way you imagined something being built and how accurately you can accomplish that,” Horner said.