Magazine article Technology and Children

Magnetic Levitation Racers

Magazine article Technology and Children

Magnetic Levitation Racers

Article excerpt

Introduction

Auto racing is one of the most popular spectator sports in the world. One type of auto racing is drag racing, in which specially built cars travel at speeds of up to 300 mph while competing against each other on a quarter-mile track. Drag racing is definitely one sport that can satisfy people's competitive spirit and thirst for speed.

So what will drag racing be like in the future, and how fast will these futuristic racers travel? Currently, drag racers are constantly looking for ways to go faster by increasing the size of their engine, decreasing the weight of their cars, or even trying new tires to decrease friction. Maybe dragsters of the future will look totally different than what we see today. How about vehicles that race side by side while floating above the track?

A MagLev racer, or magnetic levitation vehicle, is a car that floats on a magnetic track. (See figure above.) Because magnets on the bottom of the MagLev vehicle have the same polarity as the magnets on the track, the vehicle is lifted into the air. This is due to the scientific principle that magnets with like poles repel each other. By eliminating friction caused by tires, magnetic levitation vehicles are capable of exceeding speeds of over 500 mph. In this activity, students will be able to observe how a magnetic levitation vehicle works, better understand scientific principles related to magnets, and explore new possibilities for future transportation systems.

The purpose of this activity is to introduce students to magnetic levitation vehicles and reinforce science principles related to magnets.

Design Activity: Construct and test a Maglev racer.

Materials

* A few buckets of LEGO(R) bricks.

* Two MagLev tracks.

Note: tracks can be purchased through most technology education vendors such as www.kelvin.com or www.pitsco.com.

* Maglev racer sleds.

Note: Teachers can simply make these reusable sleds by hot gluing 1" x 3/4" x 3/16" rectangular ceramic magnets to the bottom of 8 peg by 16 peg LEGO(R) base plates.

Activity

1) Discuss futuristic transportation systems with students.

2) Explain to the students the scientific principles related to magnets.

3) Explain and demonstrate to students how a magnetic levitation vehicle works. …

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