Form and Function
Have students look at the different types of race cars on the exhibit floor. Either verbally or on paper, have them list characteristics of each type of car.
- How are muscle cars different from midgets?
- How are NASCAR vehicles different from Formula 1 vehicles?
Students at this level typically go beyond color and surface details, but if students are focusing on these elements, ask them to think bigger!
- How are the shapes/designs of the vehicles different?
- What could this difference mean when running on a racing track?
- How are the tires different?
- What would be the advantages/disadvantages of this design?
Have students spend some time at the Land Speed wall. This wall explores the highest speeds achieved by people using vehicles on land (as opposed to air or water, which have their own speed records and are interesting to explore, too!). Either verbally or in writing, have students name some of the countries with drivers and/or vehicles represented on the Land Speed wall.
- Which country has the most records represented?
- Are there any patterns students notice (e.g. records shifting from one country to another)?
- What could this mean?
Oftentimes, speed and performance increases as a result of technology advancing in certain countries. The United States has a strong racing history, but point out to students that early records were not held by American drivers. French and British drivers held many a record before the United States entered the picture. Also, ask students to note the technologies represented with various time periods. Are students surprised to discover that the earliest speed-record vehicles weren’t gasoline powered? Granted, these “speed” records early on were well under 100 MPH, but these vehicles were actually electric!