Wednesday, October 19, 2016


Here are a bunch of good links about gears from when we learned about them earlier in our Simple Machines unit.

A car gear shift doesn't work so differently from bike gears! We watched some interesting videos on how various parts of the gearbox are made, in this video.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Car Engines

To talk about engines, we had some friends of ours over for dinner—Derek works in airplane design and engineering, but he has also always loved cars too, so he agreed to talk to the kids about how car engines work. It was fascinating to hear him relate it all so simply as he pointed to different parts of the car engine. It almost made me feel like I could learn to fix one, it seemed so straightforward how all the parts worked together!

Some links about engines:

Here is an animation of a traditional four-stroke engine that makes it very clear.

Here are some more resources from when we learned about Diesel engines.

And even more on engines, from when we were learning about airplanes.

Why you might use a flat-plane vs cross-plane V8 engine

Why the engine types sound "so different" (ha ha, though I personally still can't hear that much of a difference!)

And here is a video where you can hear all those different engine sounds. It's long, but if you're a 14-year-old boy who likes cars, it won't seem long to you! :)

Another engine sound comparison

Monday, October 10, 2016

Automobile Unit Study

(click to enlarge)

This Automobile Unit is one I promised Abe ages ago. I'm not sure how he got so interested in cars, since I have hardly ever given a second thought to them, but somehow he did. And lots of this unit covered things he already knew! But it was fun for the rest of us to catch up with him a little. :) For Sebastian's part, he loves road signs and markings, so we made sure to loop those into our unit as well.

We spent quite a long time covering all these things, and many of the days didn't really have something to take a picture of, but there are a few other posts under the "Automobile Unit" tag.

Some miscellaneous links:

The difference between "brake horsepower" and "wheel horsepower"

"Bloodhound SSC" is the car that's trying to break Thrust SSC's speed record

This place sounds really cool. The boys say they would love to go there someday!

Car Talk! I used to love listening to this show in the car on Saturday mornings when my mom and I were out doing errands.

Ideas from a unit study on the Model T Ford.

Model T coloring page.

And here's my Pinterest page for the Automobile Unit, with many of these same links.

We watched some carefully-selected episodes of "Top Gear" with the children, but man it was hard to find ones without swearing or crudeness! Too bad, because they loved that show. We also watched Disney's "Cars 2" and "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" during this unit.

Speaking of "Top Gear," though, by FAR our favorite book of the unit was by Richard Hammond from "Top Gear." It's called Car Science and it was just excellent. It explained every aspect of how cars work, in an engaging way, without talking down to the reader, but in simple enough terms that I understood concepts I was totally baffled by in other books. I highly recommend it!
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