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Honors Physics: Engine Design Project

Group Members:                                                         Project Title:


The goal of this project is for your group to apply and extend all the ideas we've discussed about energy and work and thermodynamics in this last unit as you design and analyze an engine. Remember: Documentation is everything!

These are the steps you'll follow:

  • Design and describe an engine (or borrow and modify the design of an existing one) which in its operation
    • takes in some form of energy
    • transforms at least some of the energy input to useful work
    • exhausts what remains of the input energy to the surrounding environment
    • employs one or more simple machines in its operation (optional but extra credit)
    • accomplishes the steps above in a repeating cycle (optional but extra credit)


    • Produce a drawing and a working model of your engine noting
      • dimensions
      • materials
      • how simple machines are incorporated in the design of your device (optional but extra credit)
      • any means by which the engine's state could help regulate the engine's operation by automatically opening or closing valves, governing speed, lubricating itself, etc.


      • Plan and carry out measurements on your engine to determine or justify estimates of
        • what the "working substance" employed by your engine is and what changes it undergoes during the engine's operation
        • type and quantity of energy input
        • type and quantity of useful work done each cycle
        • mechanical advantage provided by any simple machines incorporated in your design (optional but extra credit)
        • efficiency of your engine
        • what the sources of inefficiency are and what could be done to reduce energy losses to these.


        • Produce a record of
          • brainstorming done in creating your design and solving problems in its construction and analysis
          • plan and timetable you implemented to complete this project
          • what role each team member played in the project
          • time spent on each phase
          • what outside resources you utilized in your solution


          • Scoring: Projects will be awarded up to 24 points for each of the four parts listed above. See the Project Scoring Rubric attached. Completeness,accuracy, care, and the documented involvement of all team members will be the basis for awarding points. To earn at least 80% teams must show through their behavior in class and written records that they are actively engaged on the project in physics class on each day until the due date. Up to 15 Bonus Points will be awarded for ingenious designs or efforts which go beyond the minimum requirements.



            Projects will be due at the end of class Tuesday 19 February.


Last updated Saturday, March 09, 2002
© 2002 All rights reserved   Tom Stork
Background adapted from "Design for a flying machine," a drawing by Leonardo da Vinci