Massey-NHRA-National-Dragster.jpgAuto racing is an expensive and technically complex hobby, but it can be just as fun when it's scaled down to where the car can fit in your hand. Pneumatic dragster racing lets you do just that -- build a tiny race car that looks amazing, can move at incredible speeds and incorporates many of the same principles as a full-sized, real car. Pneumatic simply means compressed air powered. This project will also put your skills and knowledge of science to the test. Think you have what it takes to build a fast, cool-looking Pneumatic dragster? Let's find out!

How will this project work?
Your dragster should be designed with a practical, aerodynamic shape, modeled after an actual race car or given a crazy, eye-catching appearance that you have the skills and tools to construct. Paint, decals and add-ons are common ways to decorate them. Previous students have modeled their dragsters after Formula 1 cars, NASCAR racers or even the Batmobile. Be creative!

The best way to design a car is to follow the design process; research, brainstorm, draw up your plans and then build a prototype. Then using your prototype, test it with compressed air power. Next analyze it's performance, see what went wrong, and what could be improved. Go through the Design Cycle again and then move on to build your final version. You are building 2 cars! Your second car should incorporate the knowledge gained from the first one. We will test the final version against others in the class in our final week of the semester.

As with the previous projects, the evaluation will have a "portfolio" component and a "project" component. Your project evaluation will include a summary of your research on the compressed air dragster (such as the physics of the cars motion, methods of construction, ways to make it go further (or faster). This will go in your research page. Under the planning page, you will need sketchup plans - as in your other projects - as well as a procedure list for the building. Use sketchup to show the car's construction and also paint scheme, design features, details, etc. Your production page should document your building, testing and design process. Finally, in the reflection page, describe the results of your prototype testing and clearly indicate any changes you will make as you undertake the final (second) car. You can then summarize what you learned from the entire project.

Remember, the Pneumatic car you're designing is a dragster -- meaning, a streamlined car that competes in drag racing, a sport where two or more vehicles compete to see who can move in a straight line the fastest or in our case the furthest. Handling is not an issue here.

Do you think you have a good design in mind for your car? What makes a good car? Think Critically!

Let's investigate some of the physics and science behind how these cars work.

You must complete this project entirely in class, with the tools and materials in our shop.

Level 4 - Exemplary
Level 3 - Competant
Level 2 - Fair Attempt
Level 1- Poor
Research is thorough and very well considered. Insights are clearly stated and help define the project
Research is evident, and appropriate. Findings are explained and relevant to the project
Some evidence of research is present, but not well explained. A simple weblink or image may be included.
Little evidence of research is present.

Plans describe the piece perfectly. Plans are well thought out and thorough. All parts are neatly dimensioned. A clear and logical
procedure list is included
The piece is generally well described. Some dimensions may be needlessly repeated. A procedure list is present
Some parts of the piece are not well described. The plans or procedure list may be difficult to follow
The piece description is poor or unclear. Dimensions may be limited or incomplete. A procedure list may be missing.


Construction and
Build Quality
All cuts are absolutely precise and clean. As a result, the resulting product is perfectly symmetrical, functional and seamless with no evidence of "broken" stock.
Cuts are generally accurate. As a result, the product appears quite functional
Cuts appear to be inaccurate. Symmetry and seams are compromised.
The resulting piece demonstrates limited skill
The piece has severe manufacturing problems. The resulting piece demonstrates poor skill

Design and Sophistication
The detail and features of the piece are particularly well thought out. They are aesthetically and structurally sound.
The detail and features of the piece are appropriate. They are aesthetically and structurally sound.
The detail and features of the piece are limited, or somewhat impractical for the project
The detail and features of the piece are quite limited, or inappropriate for the project

The finish is flawless for the piece. There is NO evidence of relief cuts, pencil marks, excess glue, and sanding is fine and well done.
The finish is well done for the piece. There is little evidence of excess glue, and sanding is well done.
The finish is slightly flawed for the piece. There may be evidence of excess glue, filler, and opportunities for sanding to improve the appearance
The finish is flawed for the piece. Greater care and sanding would improve the appearance

The piece functions EXTREMELY well for its intended purpose. Wheels are perfectly parallel and spin smoothly without losing energy
The piece will function well for it's intended use
The piece requires further modification to function properly for it's intended purpose
The piece lacks functionality for it's intended purpose.

Reflections are thoughtful and genuine. Observations are correct. Significant effort is evident. Changes made between the design and construction are explained
Reflections are somewhat thoughtful and genuine. A few observations are correct. Modest effort is evident. Changes made between the design and construction are noted but not explained.
Few reflections present. Some effort is evident to describe learning which took place. Changes made between the design and construction are not explained.
Few reflections and observations made. Very little effort made to reflect on the learning that took place.

  • Stock Size: The "blanks" are provided for you - You should measure them to confirm these approximate sizes
    • 12" x 2.5" x 1.75" (made up of two "laminated" pieces)
    • The "air tunnel" is 1/4" x 1/4" and is centered along the x axis, offset 1/4" from the bottom of the blank
  • Wheels
  • Axels
  • Paint
  • Plastic straw

RESEARCH the following terms and concepts to answer these questions

  • Aesthetics
  • Range
  • Efficiency

Which of the following concepts and terms are most relevant to the success of YOUR project? Explain why you think so