Fantastic Elastic

Energy concepts are often considered too abstract for children to learn in the elementary grades. This workshop will present an approach to understanding energy through hands-on design and testing of vehicles which are powered by elastic energy. All worksheets and material ordering information will be provided.

During this workshop, participants will make and test their own wind-ups and other elastic powered vehicles.

Participants will engage in the following activities involving wind-up vehicles:

  • Observing home-made wind-up vehicles and starting to make them.
  • Completing wind-ups & recording issues.
  • Exploring wind-ups and the variables that govern their operation.
  • Developing the concept of troubleshooting.
  • Writing a wind-up troubleshooting guide.
  • Writing an instruction manual.
  • Redesigning wind-ups.
  • Exploring the concepts underlying how a wind-up works.

Then participants will be introduced to other elastic powered vehicles which they will be able to make. The materials are inexpensive and the curriculum is available at no charge at

Gary Benenson

Professor, City College of New York

Gary Benenson is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the City College of New York, where he has worked for 30 years. For the past 25 years, he has been Project Director of City Technology, which has received four major National Science Foundation grants for curriculum and professional development to support curriculum and professional development to support engineering education in the elementary grades.

Jody Hilton

Science teacher, Marcus Garvey School

Jody Hilton has worked for the New York City Public System for 20 years. She spent 11 years as a classroom teacher in grades 1-3, and 5 years as a literacy coach specializing in Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. She is currently the Science Teacher at PS 44, the Marcus Garvey School in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, NY. She also holds two additional New York State Licenses in the areas of School Administration and Counseling. Jody has been affiliated with City Technology for the past 9 years. She is a member of the team that has created and tested the Fantastic Elastic curriculum.