Student hopes for an “A” for project
It’s that time of year again in school when the students start thinking about their science projects. This year 14-year-old Taylor Stinnett wanted to do something different, so after some thought and consultation with his father, Taylor decided to use a race truck to prove some theories he had about gear ratios and elapsed time on the track.
Taylor talked his father into letting him use his Pro Challenge race truck to drive at 411 Motor Speedway in Seymour. The two worked as a team, using mathematics to determine what speed, elapsed time and revolutions per minute (RPM) would be on the vehicle.
The fun part of the project for Taylor came when it was time to actually drive the truck.
“I decided to do this science project because I got to drive,” said Taylor.
Driving the race truck isn’t like streaking along Chapman Highway, though it may seem so. The truck is a six speed, standard, and today’s youth very seldom learn to drive with a standard transmission, which requires a clutch to get the vehicle going. To make it harder, Taylor had to have a block of wood mounted behind the gas pedal. The block insured that the gas pedal wouldn’t go down any further than necessary so each lap would be consistent.
Once the truck was ready to go out on the track, Stinnett monitored his sons times with a hand held clock and used an electronic timing device that is mounted on the truck and the outside wall of the track. Each time the truck went by, it recorded the time and Stinnett kept track on paper.
The project centered on an idea that Tom and Taylor had while watching NASCAR. The announcers were talking about changing differential gears in the cars and the younger Stinnett wanted to know how that would affect the speed and how the cars got around the track. The two put their heads together and decided to find out themselves with the race truck that Tom is part owner on.
After several test sessions at the track and the work of changing the gears three times, Taylor’s project was a success. Taylor found out some important things about math and found out what momentum will do to a car in a circle. After changing gears, the truck got faster, lap times dropped and the circle became harder to drive. Taylor worked around it though, learning that he needed to change his position on the track to accommodate for the faster speed. His adjustment enabled him to get the desired information and have a little fun at the same time.
The science project was a big success for both Taylor and Tom, Taylor will hope for the “A” he deserves and Tom got a chance to spend some quality time with his son. It was a win, win, science project.