A “Car Crash” simulation project is used in West Orange High School’s materials engineering unit as a culminating performance-based challenge in the Principles of Engineering course. As a STEM project, it integrates all four disciplines – science, technology, engineering and math — to help solve an important real-world problem: improving car safety technology.
Students must use their understanding of how different materials have properties that react differently to forces (science), and car safety systems to design a model car chassis that is optimized for safety (technology and engineering). They take on the role of a vehicle safety engineer to develop and fabricate a car chassis that is to be evaluated in a frontal collision test, and a side impact collision test. The chassis needs to be built with a limited supply of materials, and the following criteria: No larger than 5-by-8 inches; a seat for the driver; one passive safety system (such as a seatbelt); one hinged door that opens, closes and latches; and a minimum 120-degree field of vision for the driver. Students know ahead of time that the driver of their vehicle is an egg, and they will be assessed on whether the egg is dislodged or cracked in the collision. Students also analyze real crash tests to calculate velocities, vehicle weights, and miles per hour in relation to their simulated crash test (math).
Contact: Ryan DelGuercio, supervisor – technology and engineering
Submitted by the district.