Rubber Band Challenge

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Kitchen Science: Rubber Band Challenge

This video is to celebrate British Science Week, which is all about innovating for the future.

This video will you show how to build a car using materials in your own home or school, but we want your students to alter the design, style and speed, however they like!

Don’t forget to share with us your amazing invention on Social Media at @Thinktankmuseum #BSW21

Items you’ll need are:

  • Rubber band
  • Cupboard tube (if you don’t have one a cereal box or milk bottle will work too, it needs to be strong enough to be the body of your vehicle)
  • A bolt (or a hook, you could also experiment with a paperclip)
  • 4 CDs (or milk tops would need an adult to help with making a hole)
  • 2 pencils
  • Sticky Tape
  • Super Glue
  • Scissors

Watch the short video below to find out how to make your own vehicle powered by a rubber band.


  1.  Take your long cardboard tube and using scissors cut the tub in half; length ways, leaving you with a long semi-circle
  2. Using a pencil, mark where you are going to put your pencils (these will be your axels) through and make the holes for the pencils to go through. The holes will need to be at the bottom and top of the tube and on both sides. You might need an adult to help with this.
  3. The four CDs are going to be your wheels, place them on your pencils. They will feel very wobbly, secure them in place with lots of sticky tape.
  4. Secure your bolt in the middle to one of your pencils (your back wheels) by using super glue, let this dry.
  5. Take your rubber band and loop it around the front of your pencil
  6. Decorate your vehicle- it is completely up to you how you would like to design it- will it be a car, plane, train, or even create a new invention…
  7. When you are ready, stretch the rubber band over to your bolt. Now turn your pencil with the bolt in a clockwise position and you will see the rubber band starting to wrap around the pencil. When you are ready, let go and see how fast it goes.
Science behind the experiment

The rubber band acts like your motor, the more you turn the pencil the more energy it stores so when you let go it allows the vehicle to go further. However, there are external factors that could affect this such as the surface the vehicle is on, the weight of the vehicle and the type of wheels you have on.

Activities and Questions

All great scientist experiment to see what works best; here are a few things you can try out:

  • If you turn the rubber band more or less- what happens to your vehicle?
  • If you add a weight to your vehicle does it have an effect to how fast it can go?
  • If you change the wheels or change the surface does the vehicle go faster or slower?