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Science Rocks!

Spool Racer


your results

Sent in by:
Eleanor of Philadelphia, PA

Got junk? Then you may have the stuff to make a fun desktop racing thingy.

Materials Needed

  • spool
  • rubber band
  • metal washer
  • pencil
  • tape
  • toothpick



  1. Slip the rubber band through the center of the spool.
  2. Put a toothpick through one loop of the rubber band, tape it down and break off the ends so they don't stick out beyond its edge.
  3. On the other end of the rubber band, slip on the washer and put the pencil through the rubber band loop.
  4. Wind up the pencil a few times and put the spool on the table.
  5. Let it go and watch your racer take off.
  6. You may want to find someone to race. Have different races to test the spool racer's speed or straightness.

Some of your Results

Abbie, Michael, Kaleb, and Julie of OH wrote:
The more you twist the pencil the more it turns when you let it go. To get it to go in a straight line you need to do less turns of the pencil.

Rod, age 12 of Long Island, NY wrote:
It worked well. I tried putting on weights and it went faster

Caroline, age 12 of Gambrills, MD wrote:
we did it in class and my group was one of the only ones that it worked it was so cool but alot of groups rubber bands broke

Madison, age 9 of San Angelo, TX wrote:
it did work SO GREAT!!!

Matt, age 10 of Omaha, NE wrote:
When I tried it woulnd not move. so, I tried a washer with a smaler hole but it still woulnd not work.

Dan, age 14 of Rockford, MI wrote:
It worked fine although it didn't go in a straight line. Enstaid of toothpicks, I used a nail and a pen.

Josh, age 13 of Indianapolis, IN wrote:
It went sideways and then I tried again and it steal went sideways.

Jessica, age 13 of Pensacola, FL wrote:
Mine only went a couple of feet then the rubber band broke. Now the spool will move in place, instead of the whole thing.

Tom, age 15 of Weymouth, MA wrote:
It raced unflawed and went perfectly straight.

Mariah, age 7 of McDonough, GA wrote:
It went down the ramp and crashed into the wall.

Jessica, age 14 of Ocoee, FL wrote:
First you have to take a spool and put some whells on them. Then you add a lot of balloons to it. When you think that it has enougf balloons on it then let it go.

Alexis, age 10 of Cotton Valley, LA wrote:
Mines didn't work I did everything but it stiil did not work want do you think I did wronge?

Alexis, age 10 of Cotton Valley, LA wrote:
I could not get it to work I don't no why. I used every thing that was instucted but it sill didn't work.

Kate, age 13 of Ellsworth, ME wrote:
I couldn't get it to work, I don't know why. I used braces elastics and all the other right stuff because I couldn't find an elastic small enough. Why didn't it work? My science teacher said that it didn't have enough force. I was going to use this for my newtons scooters project at school, but I ended up using the can car instead. What it is is like a bigger version of the spool racer. My dad really liked using it, he used to make them when he was a kid. Thanks for making all this cool stuff on here, I am waiting for another fun activity.

Jonathan, age 11 of Oakland, CA wrote:
It was cool. My grandpa played with them when he was a boy. He said they were called tanks. He made them out of different materials.

Jay Z., age 16 wrote:
When I made it it went fast.

Justin C., age 8 of Columbia, TN wrote:
I love it.

Roxanna J., age 8 of Los Angeles, CA wrote:
It went real fast. Last time I wound it up too much and it broke.

Sabrina M., age 6 of Martinez, GA wrote:
I took a spoon and put and egg with a penny on the bottom. It's a real challange.

Tyann S., age 9 of Huron, SD wrote:
Mine didn't go, the pencil dragged to much. I tried to make wheels out of toothpicks and buttons to keep the pencil up. That didn't work either.

Dustin, age 10 of Crawfordsville, IN wrote:
Mine worked really good. Mine went strait the first time. Maybe thats because I changed the design. I did all the steps, then I added another pencil and washer on the other side of the spool!

Kara D., age 9 of North Scituate, RI wrote:
At first I forgot to add tape to the Q-tip because I used a Q-tip instead of a toothpick, and the Q-tip went wild. When I added tape, it went perfect.

Kristyn wrote:
I tried to make a spool racer. It didn't roll very fast or roll in a straight line. Did I not wind it up enough? What size of spool and rubber band and pencil should I use? What surface do I roll it on? Do you know why it didn't work?

Ryan W., age 10 of North Port, FL wrote:
If you put two pencils on each side of the spool, it will not only go faster, but in a straight line, too.

Scott P., age 11 of Belvidere, NJ wrote:
When I tryed mine it only went a inch or so.

not yet implemented