Physics Machines (2005 - 2006)

My 12th grade physics teacher had an identical set of Legos that he issued to all his students. On Fridays we designed and built machines for four different contests that were spread over the year. As an added bonus, your final grade was partially determined by how well your machine performed in these contests. The teacher competed as well, and the highest grade anyone could get was a C if he won. I won two of the contests, and probably could have won a third.


First Nine Weeks: Catapult
The first machine was a catapult designed to shoot bent nails in a miniature game of horseshoes. It's rubber band powered, and the blue "chair" holds the nail. The red block slides on the rails, sort of like a rollercoaster. But with no seat belts.

Lego Catapult



Second Nine Weeks: Winch
Our second project was to build a winch to see who could lift the most weight the fastest. I won this competition, and incidentally, built the winch for the second place winner as well. :D

Lego Winch

If your winch dropped the weight, you automatically failed the competition. I made a rubber band powered ratchet that gave a satisfying "clackity clackity clackity" sound as I cranked.

Lego Winch Ratchet



Third Nine Weeks: Tractor Pull
The third machine was a tractor pull. I won this competition too, with this tractor pulling 500 grams 1 meter in 3.2 seconds. It's front wheel drive, and the long green block hanging over the front helps increase traction.

Lego Tractor Pull

My tractor churned out a massive 1.5 Watts, with second place producing 1 Watt and third place produced .5 Watts. The rest of the class averaged around .2 Watts, if their tractors worked at all. This is a view of the bottom of my tractor and shows the best possible gearing with what we had to work with.

Lego Tractor Pull Gearing



Fourth Nine Weeks: ATV
The final project was supposed to be a mud bogging competition, so I used tracks and a similar low gearing as my tractor pull machine. It had rubber band powered track tensioners, and it could climb over a physics textbook without a problem. It even managed to complete the practice course with my camera strapped to the top. However, the teacher changed the course at the last minute so it was more of a dirt drag race. Naturally, due to my machine's gearing, I didn't stand a chance.

Lego Mudbogging Machine