May 6, 2013

Science for Kids: Making a Spool Car

Making a Spool Car with Kids

What an honor to have Chelsey of Buggy and Buddy guest posting today. Chelsey does so many creative activities with her children. One of my recent favorites was Go On a Sound Walk with ideas for outdoor play with a purpose. Chelsey included a free printable, so you can enjoy this activity with your children. Welcome Chelsey!

spool car 2

I'm so thrilled to be here at Train Up a Child to share one of our favorite science experiments with you~ making spool cars! I absolutely love doing science at home with the kids. It's such a wonderful way to promote critical thinking and problem solving while also having fun! 

Making Spool Cars

  • spool
  • rubberbands
  • washers
  • paperclip
  • tape
  • pencil
  1. Pick up your spool and put a rubber band through the hole so it's coming out on both sides. (We used a toothpick to help push it through.)

2. Place a paperclip through one side of the rubber band and tape it in place.

3. On the other side, thread the rubber band end through two washers. Then stick a pencil through the loop in the rubber band.  


4. Hold the spool securely with one hand, and with the index finger of your other hand, turn the unattached pencil around and around in a clockwise direction to wind the rubber band tightly. 


5. Place the spool on a flat surface and release it. Watch it go! 

- We found using two washers works better than just one washer. - Experiment with different lengths of rubber bands to find the one that works best. - It may take a few tries to get it right~ don't give up!
Questions to Spark More Curiosity and Critical Thinking:
What do you think is making the spool car go? What is the purpose of the washers?  Some observations and questions Lucy came up with as she was experimenting~ “I think the strength of the car makes it go. It's like a car motor." "I feel the rubberband getting tighter when I twist it!"   
Lucy then discovered that putting the spool cars on their sides was fun to watch too. 
"It's like a helicopter. The rubberband moves it." "I wonder if we put a feather on it if it would fly?"
Want to go even further?
Even more activities to inspire creativity and critical thinking for various ages.
    • Does the amount of times you twist the rubber band affect how the spool car works?
    • Try using something in place of the pencil like a toothpick or crayon. Does that affect how the spool car works?
    • Make a few spool cars and have a race with your friends!
Explanation: When you twist the rubber band you're storing potential energy (energy that can do work in the future.) As the rubber band unwinds, the potential energy turns into kinetic energy (energy of a moving object.)  The paperclip taped to the spool turns, turning the spool. The unattached pencil next to the washers does not turn and is dragged across the surface as the turning spool moves forward. I'd like to invite you to come visit our Science Invitation Saturday series full of many other exciting science experiments to do at home!

IMG_9020.jpgChelsey is a former elementary teacher and is now staying home with her two children. She blogs over at Buggy and Buddy sharing crafts, learning activities and art projects. You can follow Chelsey on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter


  1. That looks like so much fun, but I haven't seen a wooden spool in years...I wonder if a plastic one would work as well.

  2. What a great activity! I love Lucy's commentary. She's adorable!!!!

  3. My four year old will go crazy over this. I just need to ask my sewing friends for a few spools. Thanks!

  4. Gosh, I remember doing stuff like this back in school! The spool cars are so simple but such a brilliant idea to do with kids. Pinning now!


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