Kitchen Science Experiments

Train Tracks - how trains go round corners

Sun, 23rd Sep 2012

Listen Now    Download as mp3 Part 1,2 from the show What shape web does a spider spin in space?

What you Need

Some plastic glasses and a tube

A slightly sloping board

Some rails - hosepipe, or pipe insulation work well

What to do

First arrange your board so it is gently sloping, for a 60cm board lift one end 4-5cm

Now arrange your tracks about 1 1/2 cups apart - keep them the same distance apart and give them a slight curve. You may need to tape them down.

Now build your train wheels - the easiest way to do this is to tape two cups together. 

Tape one pair with the wide ends together and another with the narrow ends together.

Concave cup axle

Convex cup axle

Narrow ends together

Wide ends together  

Try rolling the tube and the cups down the slope. Which design stays on the best?

What may happen

You should find that the tube doesn't really stay on the track, the cups with the narrow ends together falls off even more quickly, but the cups with the wide ends connected together correct themselves and stay on the track.

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