Crash Test Dummies

25 August 2009

Have you ever wanted to learn about Newton's Laws of Motion? Have you ever wanted to build a prototype that could revolutionise the crash test dummy world?

Well, all of this was done with the help of five engineering students, two enthusiastic Year 9 classes and a bunch of golf balls that were strapped on for dear life as they were hurled through collision tests!

The engineering students from the advanced engineering program organised a workshop to work with Year 9 students from Marrickville High School to investigate the science behind car crashes. The day-long event, called 'Impact!', was part-science experiment, part-engineering challenge and part-university open day.

The students worked in groups to solve a simplified real-world engineering problem: how to minimise the force on passengers in the event of a crash. Their brief was to design, build and test models of a safety harness and crumple zone, which together would minimise the force on the car and protect its cargo. Using everyday materials such as straws, paperclips and rubber bands, the students devised creative solutions to keeping the passenger (a golf ball) free of injury! The safety of each group's solution was tested in a competition at the end of the day, where their cars were rolled down a ramp to collide with a brick wall.

The day presented an excellent opportunity for the students to interact with university students and to have a small taste of university life. And to save a golf ball or two.

One of the cars built, with its golf ball 'passenger'
One of the cars built, with its golf ball 'passenger'

More photos from the day