Energy systems

Fantastic Elastic

1 What Is a Wind-up?


Students observe a teacher-made wind-up, identify the materials needed to make a wind-up, and sketch what they plan to make. Then they begin to make their own wind-ups.

Advance Preparation

  • Construct a sample wind-up.
  • Photocopy worksheet, “My Wind-up” (see download at bottom).
  • Prepare Science Notebooks and plastic bags for students.


  • A sample teacher-made wind-up.
  • Materials for making wind-ups: a variety of rubber bands, plastic lids, paper/plastic cups, wooden sticks or stirrers, paper clips, pony beads, thin wire or fishing line, masking tape, push pins for making holes.
  • Two-gallon plastic bags for storing work-in-progress – one per student.


  1. Looking at wind-ups and drawing them:
    Gather students for a class meeting. Show them the sample wind-up and ask them to identify the parts. List the parts as they are named.
    I want to draw this wind-up. How shall I begin?
    Start with the cup and ask students what they see from a side view. Draw the trapezoid, then the narrow rectangles, which is what can be seen of the lids (wheels) from the side. Ask students about the remaining parts, draw them, then

    • How will I know what all these pieces are?
      Proceed to elicit labeling and write the labels on the drawing as they are given.

  2. Demonstrate the wind-up.
    When I turn the stick I twist the rubber band and store energy in it. The energy stored in the rubber band makes the car go. Ask students if they would like to make their own. Are there any other materials you might want besides the ones we listed on the drawing?

    • How will you make this hole in the bottom of the cup?
    • What might you substitute for the lids to make the wheels?
    • What might you substitute for the paper cup?*

  3. Students do worksheet for Lesson 1:
    My Wind-up: The drawing is a quick sketch!

  4. Starting to make wind-ups:
    Direct students to a central materials location with instructions to take just enough to make the wind-up they have designed. Allow students to experiment freely with the materials, and record any problems that come up.

  5. Clean-up:
    Allow adequate time for clean-up. Provide each student with a plastic bag for storing work-in-progress, and tape for putting his or her name on the bag.

  6. Students write reflections:
    Students respond to sentence starters such as: “What I did; What I learned; How I feel about it”; or “Today I did; Tomorrow I will; I still don’t understand”; or other such writing stimulus.


- Students observe the winding up and subsequent motion of the device, and conclude that it needs to be wound up to make it go.
- Students notice the materials that a wind-up is made from, gather these materials, and begin to make a wind-up.
- Words for the word wall: wind-up, energy, stored energy

My Wind-up Worksheet

My Wind-up Worksheet.docx