Build a Fuel Cell Car

Global warming is becoming more and more a prominent issue in the world, especially as scientists gather evidence proving the specifics of its threat. Because of this, scientists studying alternative fuels are focused on minimal energy usage combined with minimal emissions to produce a cleaner and economical choice for consumers.

For years NASA has used fuel cell technology to generate electricity and power spacecraft. Fuel cells work by allowing oxygen to react with natural gas, methanol or hydrogen to produce electricity without combustion. The fuel is fed into an electrolyte near the electrodes and an electric current is created. In hydrogen fuel cells, water and heat are the only byproducts.

Fuel cells are poised for a breakthrough into the mainstream, and offer a clean alternative for not only electricity generation, but also powering our automobiles and other vehicles. Both Mercedes-Benz and Toyota both plan to produce fuel cell-powered electric vehicles in the next decade. Such vehicles would have far greater range than today's battery-powered electric cars.

Get this Free Curriculum together with our Fuel Cell Car & Experiment Kit and build your own car that uses alternative energy. Find out if hydrogen fuel cells can be a possible solution to the problem of global warming.

Introduction and Rationale

The Thames & Kosmos Fuel Cell Car & Experiment Kit was originally designed to be used by one or two children at home, or outside of a formal classroom. The manual that accompanies the kit was written for this audience to use for informal science learning. After its introduction, it became clear that the Fuel Cell Car & Experiment Kit could be a valuable teaching aid for use in the science classroom. Thus, this curriculum was developed to revise and supplement the manual provided with the Thames & Kosmos Fuel Cell Car & Experiment Kit so that it is easier to use for both teachers and students in the middle school classroom. The main goal of this curriculum is to provide an engaging middle school physical science course that covers energy transfer, the basics of electricity, and alternative energy technology. The course includes both a lecture component and a lab component using the Fuel Cell Car & Experiment Kit.

You can study more about fuel cell technology by taking science classes through an online school.

Fuel Cell Car & Experiment Kit
together with Curriculum
for only $144.95

- For a limited time only -

Course Overview

This physical science course is written to be used to instruct students in the areas of electricity, energy transfer, and alternative energy. The course begins by introducing students to key concepts and terminology in these areas. This can be done in a lecture or discussion format and can utilize any physical science textbook for additional student assignments and related activities. An example here might include rubbing a balloon on a student's hair to demonstrate static electricity, or using a toaster to demonstrate the energy transfer of electrical energy to heat energy.

Following the formal instruction, the class is encouraged to address the issues of energy and alternatives to the present sources, especially in the field of transportation. Teachers can raise issues about electric cars and have students research the pros and cons of buying and owning an electric car. Students could also pursue information on other vehicle energy sources such as fuel cells, diesel, natural gas, or even micro-nuclear. The findings could be presented to the class informally or in a formal speech. This would allow all the students to learn from each other's research.

The focus of this course is a series of technology labs. These labs are revised from the lab manual that accompanies the Fuel Cell Car & Experiment Kit from Thames & Kosmos. Having introduced the students to the concepts of electricity and energy transfer, it is good to reinforce the concepts through the use of these lab activities. The descriptions and images in the Thames & Kosmos lab manual are helpful and could be used as background information (especially for the teacher) for these revised labs.

Labs one through seven contained herein are designed to stand alone, if necessary, as a unit on solar cells and solar energy. In labs one through seven (revised from the Thames & Kosmos lab manual introduction through experiment 10), student groups use a solar panel and multimeter to measure, collect, and analyze data.

Lab one introduces students to the multimeter and how to measure current, voltage, and resistance. In labs two through six, students use the solar cell to relate brightness to electrical output, measure and differentiate solar radiation, and produce an IV (current/voltage) curve for their solar panel. Although based upon the Thames & Kosmos lab manual, these labs (and lab seven: Electrolysis of Water) are written for use in the physical science classroom and do not require purchasing the Fuel Cell kit. Each of the seven labs has a Teacher Notes page that shares with teachers some instructional strategies and also the answers to the questions in the labs.

Studying the hydrogen fuel cell will require the Thames & Kosmos Fuel Cell Car & Experiment Kit including its lab manual. This curriculum includes supplemental worksheets for many of Thames & Kosmos lab manual experiments 11-33. These experiments use a hydrogen fuel cell (included in the kit) to separate water into hydrogen and oxygen. Some of the experiments are simply directions for setting up the fuel cell. For example, experiment 12 explains how to fill the fuel cell with water and to correctly attach tubes and wires. Other experiments try to answer a simple question. For instance, experiment 20 asks, "How much water was there in the fuel cell?"

The Thames & Kosmos lab manual also has color illustrations and diagrams that show the fuel cell assembly and the use of the kit components. For each experiment in which students collect and/or analyze data, a supplemental worksheet is included in this curriculum. These worksheets help clarify the directions for the experiments, they provide tables for data collection, they help students work through calculations, and they give the teacher tools for student assessment.

The rest of the activities (Thames & Kosmos lab manual experiments 23-33) involve the students actually getting the fuel cell car to run and using the motor (included in the kit) as a crane. These experiments are very practical and show students how to measure the range of the car, the speed of the car, and the mechanical energy of both the car and the crane. Any of the experiments that involve collecting data or performing calculations have supplementary worksheets provided for use in the classroom.

Following the labs and experiments, the students are asked to pick a topic about energy or energy transfer. They will research the topic, organize an outline, develop a visual aid, and present their information to the rest of the class. This final project can be used instead of a final exam for the course. Through the presentations, each student will become a novice in some aspect of alternative energy. As the students listen to each presentation, they will increase their understanding of energy and its use (or misuse) in the world today.

Fuel Cell Car & Experiment Kit
together with Curriculum
for only $144.95

- For a limited time only -

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Course Goals

Course Goal One:

Students will experience a science course that clearly integrates the two disciplines of physical science and technology education. Through the initial lecture and discussion phase, students will learn the basic terminology and concepts of electricity and types of energy. A lab phase will reinforce these concepts by incorporating "learning by doing" with the use of technology.

Course Goal Two:

Students will have a successful experience with the Thames & Kosmos Fuel Cell Car & Experiment Kit. This kit demonstrates for students how a vehicle could be devised to run on water and the energy from sunlight.

Course Goal Three:

Students will learn how to use technological devices, tables, and graphs to acquire and analyze the acquired data. Students will use a multimeter to measure voltage, resistance, and current. Students will use a solar cell and fuel cell to actually see and measure energy transfer. Students will graph and calculate results to answer specific questions.

Course Goal Four:

Students will learn the basics of electricity. Through the lecture/discussion phase, students will receive an introduction to electricity terminology. This provides them with a foundation for further physical studies later on. The inclusion of the experiments and labs, which use many of the terms and concepts, will reinforce the students' learning.

Course Goal Five:

Students will experience and explore science and technology with hands-on experiments. Students will gain a better understanding of how solar cells and fuel cells work by completing the laboratory components.

Example of a color diagram from the Fuel Cell Car & Experiment kit lab manual. The lab manual is needed for proper use of this companion curriculum.

The 96-page, full-color Experiment Manual offers over 30 experiments, including:

  • How to build a solar-powered car Effects of direct and indirect radiation Characteristics of a solar module Electrolysis and its effect on water Oxy-hydrogen test
  • How to construct and load a reversible fuel cell Decomposition of water in the fuel cell Qualitative and quantitative analysis of gas in a fuel cell
  • How efficient is electrolysis
  • How light influences electrolysis Solar electrolysis Fuel cell-powered car

Take a look inside the Fuel Cell Car & Experiment Kit

The Thames & Kosmos Fuel Cell Car & Experiment Kit provides a playful introduction to one of the most significant technologies of the early 21st Century. With this kit you can build a model car that actually runs on water! First, add water and watch it separate into hydrogen and oxygen. Then, use those stored gases to power your vehicle across the floor. Take a look inside:

Free Curriculum - For a limited time only

We provide you this great Kit together with a Free Curriculum - A COURSE IN ENERGY TRANSFER AND ELECTRICITY INCORPORATING BOTH SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY IN THE MIDDLE SCHOOL CLASSROOM by Derek Brower. Targeting Grades 6-9.

Download the Free Curriculum

Download the Free Curriculum as PFD now.
Click here to download.

Fuel Cell Car & Experiment Kit
together with Curriculum
for only $144.95

- For a limited time only -


Roland Oberdorfer
- Headmaster -
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