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Designing CO2 Dragsters

The Starting Line Is Your Imagination

Manual Drawing Tools

First rendering a design in 2-D is part of the real-world engineering process. Quality drafting tools will help students capture their ideas.

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CAD Tools & Techniques

Many student builders are using CAD software to create a virtual dragster before they create the real version.

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Dragster Specs

Specifications are often a vital element of dragster competitions. Learn why specs should be considered throughout the design and building process.

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Need Inspiration?

Whether you're designing for speed or beauty – or both – you can get some great ideas from the dragster showroom.

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A poster for Science of Speed 2: Design for Speed that shows the 14 phases of the unit.


A poster showing the steps of the design loop process.


A poster for Science of Speed 2: Let’s Get Moving that shows the five phases of the unit.


Drawing sheets used for designing your car that show views from front, top, back, and side.


Design for Speed is a six-week unit that challenges students to apply STEM knowledge and design skills. Students engage in competitive engineering with the goal of creating the fastest and most eye-pleasing balsa wood or basswood dragster. They first develop a car concept and then build it. After a battery of tests and a speed test of their prototypes, they head back to the drawing board. Students analyze their cars for drag, mass, lift, and conformity to specifications, all with the aim of making the fastest car in the room for the culminating Day at the Races event. An aesthetics competition provides an added dimension and entices students who have an artistic flair.

Extensive web support is included such as online data tracking and exclusive access to instructional videos for each phase of the activity. Teacher familiarity with tool use and woodworking methods is required. The dragster launcher is sold separately.

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The principles of the science of speed – aerodynamics, thrust, friction, Newton’s laws of motion, and so on – are at the heart of many of the most exciting applied physics and engineering projects. Let’s Get Moving, the three-week introductory unit for the Science of Speed 2 program, teaches these concepts through several projects: a pop can engine, a balloon rocket, and air-powered bottle racers. Students not only build their vehicles, they also test them and interpret data for the purposes of reengineering. Each project successively builds on the others, and at the end of the unit, students are ready to move on to the next phase in the Science of Speed process.

The unit can stand alone and comes with everything you need to successfully complete the activity. The Science of Speed 2 program comes with extensive web support such as exclusive access to instructional videos for each phase of the activity.


A must-have for teachers embarking on the Pitsco Custom Cruiser Vehicle Design activity. This book takes you through the entire activity including design concepts, CAD drawings, clay modeling, vehicle construction, and testing. Contains many helpful suggestions for implementing this activity in your classroom.


Available now in both print and free digital download!

Don’t let students wing it – have them design CO2 dragsters using engineering concepts. This guide starts the process by teaching them about the engineering design process. As they work through the activities and design their own dragsters, students will learn about:

  • Specifications
  • Newton’s laws
  • Identifying and minimizing friction
  • Bearing surfaces
  • And much more!

Using the knowledge gained, they then complete two challenges that test their ability to evaluate and make design changes to improve their vehicles.

Student materials in the guide are reproducible for distribution in your classroom. Use this guide as a supplement or use the series as the base for an engineering design course.

Equipment and materials needed to complete guide activities include the Pitsco EZ Build Dragster 32-Pack; basswood and balsa wood dragster class pack; Go/No Go Gauge; Roll Test Ramp; dragster parts such as plastic wheels, axles of various materials, brass rods, straws, washers, axles, and Precision Bearings; caliper; drill press or drill; coping saw; long-nose pliers; Phillips screwdriver; metal saw; tubing cutter; digital scale; bench pulley; measuring tape; modeling clay; sandpaper; graphite and Teflon lubricant; and standard classroom tools and materials. Note: This list is for all activities; individual activities don’t require all listed materials.