Design a car of the future
Design investigations to test reaction times and ability to concentrate whilst driving
Personal transport is becoming safer as technological advancements are made and more and more safety features are designed. However, in the future, should we be taking this to the next level and designing features with the age of the driver in mind?
Activity: Design a car of the future
In this activity students will design and carry out investigations to test reaction times and ability to concentrate. They will then try their test on older people and use their results to design a car of the future.
Students will first be asked to discuss the opinion that road accidents are more likely to be caused by younger drivers. Make sure the students realise that this is an opinion and is not backed up with evidence. They could be asked how this opinion could be proved or disproved.
Many different personal attributes can impact road safety, including a person’s vision, ability to concentrate, reaction times and mobility. The car of the future should be designed to help people overcome these issues.
Students will carry out some tests in the classroom to give a reflection of how safe they would be as a driver. Students will work in groups of around 3-4 to plan and carry out their tests. They will gather data and state what it shows. Graphs can be drawn if there is time.
For homework, students can repeat their experiment at home with older members of their family.
In the following lesson, ask students to share their results with the rest of the group and discuss as a class what their results show. Are reaction times quicker in older or younger people? Which age group is less likely to get distracted?
Groups will then work together to design a ‘car of the future’ based on their findings. They should also think about physical considerations as well as those based on their findings. They can draw their car on A3 paper, label the features and explain why they chose these.
Results from students may be different: some may show that younger drivers need the most modification; others may point towards older drivers needing the changes.
- Class access to computers with internet connection and headphones
The engineering context
Understanding basic safety concepts is essential for engineers in the automotive industry.
Suggested learning outcomes
By the end of this activity students will be able to plan an investigation, deciding what measurements to take and what equipment to use, they will be able to choose how to present results and they will be able to use data to inform design.
Download the free activity sheet below!
All activity sheets, worksheets and supporting resources are free to download, and all the documents are fully editable, so you can tailor them to your students’ and your schools’ needs.
The activity sheet includes teacher notes, guidance, useful web links, and links (where appropriate) to the national curriculum in each of the four devolved UK nations; England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
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Design a car of the future activity description, teachers' notes and curriculum links.
Student handout onto which students can record their marks for their peers' presentations.
Student handout looking at why it is important when driving to not get distracted.
Student handout looking at why it is important to have fast reaction times when driving.
Electric and hybrid cars podcast
Produced by Fun Kids Radio as part of the Techno Mum series, which aims to look into the issues surrounding electric and hybrid cars.