take your race car

take your race car1

take your race car2

take your race car3

take your race car4

This lesson reviews Newton’s laws of motion and gives students the design freedom to build their race cars using littleBits as the primary force to propel their builds. At the end of the class, students must test their creations and compete in a drag race (racing for a short distance in a straight line). There are no limitations to the design / dimensions of their race car, and they are given many bits to work with (some of them are purely aesthetic). The students who understand the lesson immediately see the value of “less is more” when building because of Newton’s 2nd law (F=ma): less mass means stronger force and quicker acceleration.

Duration: 150 minutes

Credits: Makerspace Manila

Elementary (ages 8-10)
Middle School (ages 11-13)


littleBits Basics
Makerspace Workshops

fan (1)
dc motor (1)
buzzer (1)
bend sensor (1)
toggle switch (1)
long led (1)
slide switch (1
led (1)
power (1)
fork (1)
motorMate (1)
split (1)
mounting boards (1)
battery + cable (1)
wire (1)
wheel (1)

Rubber bands 1
Masking tape 1
cardboard 1
Paper/Plastic cups 1
styrofoam 1
Construction paper 1
Toothpicks 1
Other craft supplies 1

littleBits Screwdriver


STEP 1 : Lesson Objectives

By the end of the lesson, students: 1) Will have applied Newton’s law of motion through a fun, relevant, and real-world situation; 2) Will have worked in a team, brainstormed, and designed their race car for optimum speed and stability; 3) Will have built a circuit containing a power source and output (at the very minimum); 4) Will have built a prototype of their self-driving race car, assessed their own work and improved on the design before race day; 5) Will have presented to the rest of the “racers” their race cars, noting down its strengths / features; 6) Will have practiced the littleBits Invention Cycle

STEP 2 : Standards (NGSS)

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. MS-PS2-2. Plan an investigation to provide evidence that the change in an object’s motion depends on the sum of the forces on the object and the mass of the object. MS-ETS1-1. Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions. MS-ETS1-2. Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem. MS-ETS1-3. Analyze data from tests to determine similarities and differences among several design solutions to identify the best characteristics of each that can be combined into a new solution to better meet the criteria for success. MS-ETS1-4. Develop a model to generate data for iterative testing and modification of a proposed object, tool, or process such that an optimal design can be achieved.

STEP 3 : Assessment Strategy

Assess effectivity of the lesson through achievement of the 6 objectives set above. It is also a good idea to check each student’s success as far as undertaking each step of the invention cycle is concerned – Create, Play, Remix, and Share.

STEP 4 : Set Up

Before the class starts, ready the bits to be given to each group. All groups must be given the same bits for the exercise and must be provided new batteries to be fair to everyone.

STEP 5 : Connect

Begin the class by immediately saying the challenge for the day (race). Before proceeding with their creations though, let the students sit through a refresher on Sir Isaac Newton and his three Laws of Motion, and the littleBits Invention Cycle. Afterwards, group the students into teams of 2-3 pax.

STEP 6 : Engage

Let the teams start building their designs, occasionally jumping in and out of the building process. Watch out for potential “traps” in students’ designs (too heavy, wheels are not stable, etc.) and occasionally hint at those traps that may prevent them from having a functioning creation. Do not outright give instructions on how to make their race car / trike, as that will disrupt their Invention Cycle.

STEP 7 : Practice

Give the students 10-15 minutes to test out their prototype. Let them time their creations, observe how the vehicles move (straight / crooked), pinpoint potential weak areas (e.g. axles). Have them see whether there are ways to further improve their prototype before the race begins.

STEP 8 : Close

Begin this step by conducting a race! Let everyone observe every team’s entry into the race. Do the race three times if there’s time. Afterwards, let each team present what they made and have them explain the strengths and weaknesses of their design which led to their performance for the race.

STEP 9 : Extensions

You can incorporate the use of the light sensor, mounting boards, and littleBits wheels instead of having them use cardboard and cut-up wheels. The light sensor will ensure a straight line is followed and the mounting board / littleBits wheels will better ensure a consistent roll.