The laws of physics were well and truly put to the test when students from the University of Central Lancashire rose to a new challenge.
A fire extinguisher, rocket power and helium balloons were among the objects used to power vehicles.
Teams of first year scholars on the BSc Physics and BSc Astrophysics courses tested out self-powered vehicles designed to travel in a straight line for 50 metres carrying a 415g tin of baked beans.
Without using a commercial battery or combustion engine (as used in model aeroplanes) they had to put their physics knowledge to the test and came up with some ingenious designs.
Two of the vehicles incorporated rocket power, one used a fire extinguisher and another involved the use of more than 50 helium balloons.
The fastest vehicle on the day was The Shin Splinter, an adapted skateboard with a fire extinguisher attached to it. The machine completed the 50 metres in 3.5 seconds, giving an average speed of over 51 kilometres an hour.
Dr Shane O’Hehir, lecturer and first year tutor within the School of Computing, Engineering and Physical Sciences, said: “Like any manufacturing project the teams were given time to research their ideas, design the product, build one or more prototypes and run tests before making modifications or improvements.”
He added: “A lot of physics is about solving problems and this activity is no different. In order for the students to get the best from their vehicles on the day they have been required to answer a number of physics-related questions such as the energy needed to lift the vehicle over bumps and the energy required to maintain the vehicle at its cruising speed. It’s about comparing theory with experiment and over a four-week period the students have demonstrated exceptional team working skills to produce designs which involve truly novel methods.”
Declan Chesney, 18, was part of a team which produced a rocket powered car. He said: “Having the opportunity to put physics theory into practice was a real eye-opener.”