Crash Course is an activity developed by Learning Undefeated in partnership with Caliber Collision to help students explore the physics of collisions and start conversations about collision repair careers.
Crash zones, also called crumple zones, are structural safety features that were introduced in automobiles around the 1960s by Mercedes-Benz. Originally meant for head-on collisions, these zones are now found in all parts car. Due to inertia (Newton’s first law of motion), drivers are at significant risk of injury because their body continues to move forward at their previous speed before the impact of a collision. Utilizing Newton’s second law, crash zones mitigate the amount of force imparted to the driver by increasing the time over which the velocity decreases. These crumple zones also help to limit the deformation of the car’s frame while keeping the passenger cabin intact. When combined with other safety features, like seatbelts and airbags, the likelihood of the occupants surviving in an automobile crash increases significantly. Although crash zones end up leaving more physical damage to the vehicle in a crash, the safety it provides far outweighs the cost to repair.
In this lab, students will use an online model to learn about the importance of crumple zone length and rigidity and will them apply what they learn to real materials tested with a force plate.
Students will be able to
- Students will use a model to determine how crumple zone length and rigidity affect passenger safety
- Students will use force plates to collect data about the force reduction offered by different materials
Next Generation Science Standards Connections
HS-PS2-3: Apply scientific and engineering ideas to design, evaluate, and refine a device that minimizes the force on a macroscopic object during a collision.
Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills for Science Connections
PHY.4D: calculate the effect of forces on objects, including the law of inertia, the relationship between force and acceleration, and the nature of force pairs between objects using methods, including free-body force diagrams