Mr. McCollum's physics class recently learned about energy and it's characteristics. The way the students did this is by creating rubber band cars. As Mr. McCollum explains:
We learned that energy is never created nor destroyed, only transformed. Now, in most systems, we see energy lost to heat, noise, and light instead of it all being transformed into our target energy usage, but in a simple system, we can calculate where most of the energy will be used. So, they calculated the potential energy of different rubber bands to be used in a slingshot! As the slingshot fires, it transforms that energy into kinetic energy, and if we fire straight up, it all becomes gravitational potential energy. Which just means, they could predict how high the mass would go in the air by how far back they pulled the rubber bands. The students did all the measurements and calculations themselves. It was a two-day project because they spent the first day testing the rubber bands with different forces to determine the spring constant. The spring constant is needed to calculate a spring or rubber band’s potential energy. The second day they built their slingshots, calculated height, measured and marked it, and fired the mass to see if they were right. Every group was able to accurately predict the final height of the mass! They used two different masses and two different pull distances, on the rubber bands, to prove they could predict the height with accuracy.
The video below shows a student explaining the project: