Build a Wind-Powered Car

Build a Wind-Powered Car

Welcome to the exciting world of wind-powered cars! In this advanced version of the project, we will use common materials to create a mini car that moves using the power of the wind. This activity is perfect for Kindergarteners and 1st graders who are ready for a slightly more challenging engineering adventure. A Bits4Bots unique design. Look for more styles and balloon version coming soon :)


  • Large wood craft sticks with 5 holes (4.8mm holes)
  • 5V DC motor ( 2mm shaft) Motor mount
  • Thumbscrew and hardware or Medium 1-1/4" Bolts
  • Plastic propeller L-shaped Just Clip It connectors
  • ~1-inch axles (2mm diameter)
  • Wheels (2mm diameter)
  • AA batteries
  • AA 2 cell holder with switch & wires
  • Double-sided tape

Step 1: Prepare the Base

1. Choose 3 large wood craft sticks. (Color is optional. One for the base, and two for the left & right)

2. Attach the motor mount to the base by inserting the large threaded screw through the hole of the plastic mount.

3. Check that the motor mount is sitting on the top side. The bottom side of the base wood stick will have the large screw ready for the thumbscrew to be attached.

4. Twist the plastic thumbnut fastener onto the screw.

5. Assemble the large wood craft sticks in a "U" shape using four (4) L-shaped Just Clip It plastic connectors. 

*You might need an adult's help to attach the sticks securely.

Step 2: Attach the Wheels and Axles

1. Using the 4.8mm holes of the left & right structure of the car, insert the 1 inch axle through the second hole from the top.
2. Using your index and thumb finger, gently press fit both wheels by aligning the 3mm center with the axel.

Step 3: Create the Propeller and Wind Propulsion
1. Slide the motor into the motor mount with the shaft facing outward.
2. Gently press the propeller onto the motor.
3. Using double-sided tape, adhere the AA battery holder to the opposite end of the motor.
4. Carefully attach the red and black wires to the motor as pictured. (Pay attention to polarization + & -)
The propeller with start to spin! The breeze should should flow from the propeller facing you. If it does not you may need to reverse the red and black wires.

Step 4: Let's Test It!
Find an open space with a bit of wind, like a breezy outdoor area or near a fan indoors.
1. Turn on the DC motor. The spinning propeller will create a wind force that pushes the car forward.
2. Experiment with the angle of the propeller to see how it affects the car's movement.

Step 5: Race and Decorate
1. Gather your friends, classmates, or family members for a wind-powered car race!
2. Decorate your car with additional stickers, drawings, or other fun materials :)

Step 6: Explore and Learn
1. Discuss with the kids how the motor and propeller work together to create wind force, propelling the car forward. Introduce basic concepts of energy conversion in a simple way.
2. Encourage kids to think about ways to optimize their wind-powered cars. They can increase the base of the car by adding more sticks, the size of the propeller, or the angle of the motor to experiment with speed and efficiency.

Step 7: Clean Up and Storage
Consider storing your items neatly in a plastic compartment storage box.
Pictured: 3 rows by 5 columns.
Dimensions: 10.9 X 6.5 X 2.2 inch

Congratulations! You've successfully built an advanced wind-powered car using more materials and components. This project introduces young learners to more complex engineering concepts while providing hands-on fun. Keep exploring
and innovating as you learn more about science and technology!

Step 8: Curriculum/Instructional Materials: Wind-Powered Car Project
Grade Level: Kindergarten and First Grade
Standards Alignment:

NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards):K-PS2-1: Plan and conduct an investigation to compare the effects of different strengths or different directions of pushes and pulls on the motion of an object.

1-PS4-4: Use tools and materials to design and build a device that uses light or sound to solve the problem of communicating over a distance.

Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for Mathematics:K.MD.A.2: Directly compare two objects with a measurable attribute in common, to see which object has "more of"/"less of" the attribute, and describe the difference.

Learning Objectives:
By the end of this curriculum or instructional materials, students will be able to:
1. Understand basic concepts of wind energy and its ability to move objects.
2. Design and create a wind-powered car using provided materials.
3. Explore how the size and shape of a sail impact the movement of the car.
4. Demonstrate how a motor and propeller can harness wind energy for propulsion.
5. Experiment with adjusting variables (motor angle, propeller speed) to optimize car performance.
6. Collaborate with peers to share ideas, troubleshoot, and race wind-powered cars.
7. Communicate findings and observations about wind energy and car movement.

Student Assessment Criteria:
Design and Build:
Student successfully assembles a wind-powered car using provided materials.
Car includes a motor, propeller, wood craft sticks, and axles.
Components are securely attached and aligned.

Scientific Understanding:

  • Student explains the concept of wind energy and how it can move objects.
  • Student describes the relationship between the motor, propeller, and car movement.

Experimentation and Optimization:

  • Student demonstrates the ability to adjust the sail angle and propeller speed.
  • Student observes and records how adjustments affect car movement.

Collaboration and Communication:

  • Student participates in group discussions, sharing ideas and suggestions. 
  • Student works effectively with peers to troubleshoot and improve car design.


  • Student effectively communicates findings and observations to the class.
  • Presentation includes clear descriptions of variables tested and their impact on car movement.

Assessment Methods:

  • Observation: Monitor student engagement, collaboration, and participation during the building process and group discussions.
  • Hands-On Performance: Evaluate the functionality and quality of each student's wind-powered car.
  • Presentation or Report: Assess the clarity, depth, and accuracy of students' explanations during their presentations or written reports.
  • Experimentation and Recording: Review the accuracy and completeness of students' recorded observations during experimentation.

By aligning the curriculum with standards, setting clear learning objectives, and establishing assessment criteria, you create a structured and educational experience that helps students develop both scientific understanding and practical skills while having fun building wind-powered cars.

 Utilizing Math in Engineering:

In addition to exploring scientific concepts, this wind-powered car project provides opportunities for students to engage with practical math applications, which are also aligned with both NGSS and CCSS. Engineers, much like young learners in this project, use math to solve real-world challenges.

1. Calculating Payload:
Engineers often need to determine how much weight a structure or vehicle can carry. In the context of wind-powered cars, students can calculate the payload capacity by considering the maximum weight the car can carry while still moving efficiently. They can use math to compare different objects' weights and understand how these weights affect the car's performance.

2. Understanding Weight:
By comparing and contrasting the weights of different objects that can be placed on the wind-powered car, students practice measurement and quantitative reasoning. They can calculate the weight difference between various objects and explore how this difference impacts the car's movement.

3. Analyzing Friction:
Friction is an essential concept in engineering. Students can experiment with the car's movement on various surfaces and measure how friction affects its speed. By quantifying these observations, students can relate the surface type to the amount of friction and consider ways to minimize it, similar to how engineers optimize designs for efficiency.

Through these math-related aspects, students not only address the NGSS and CCSS standards but also gain insight into how math plays a role in engineering and problem-solving. By incorporating these considerations, the wind-powered car project becomes a well-rounded learning experience that integrates science, math, and hands-on exploration.

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