Dan Nichols
[email protected]
Adapted from
2012-2013 SOSI
This event has two parts: Part 1 vehicle testing and Part
2 written test on magnetism concepts
For Part 1: the vehicle(s) and any material needed to
adjust the vehicle must be impounded prior to the start
of competition
Teams may bring their own track or use the supervisor
provided track. Teams may share tracks but must have
different vehicles. Tools and track do not have to be
impounded, but the supervisor needs to check the
track for specifications before use.
Z87+ high impact goggles must be worn by
competitors during set-up and testing.
Students build up to two self-propelled
magnetically-levitated vehicles to move down
a magnetic track.
Main Goal: Consistency
Maximum Voltage of Any Circuit: 9.0 V as
calculated by their labels
Vehicle size restrictions: length between 15
and 20 cm; height < 20 cm, excluding the
dowel; width must fit a standard track (width
of 2 9/16”)
Students run their cars and develop data charts
and graphs of the time it takes for their car(s) to
travel between 50 and 95 cm
This data will be used to help predict a time
score during the competition.
Must be between 15.0 and 20.0 cm long
Must have a height less than 20 cm (excluding dowel)
Mass must be no less than 150.0 g
Car must fit on standard Mag Lev track (see next slide)
No part of the vehicle, other than the propeller, may extend
outside of the vertical planes of the track
No rare earth magnets (can damage magnetic tape in the track)
Car must have a 30 cm long 1/8” dowel vertically attached within
5 cm of its front edge or be able to accommodate the supervisors
Vehicles may have up to 2 propellers and two motors. Motors
must fit specifications in rules.
Car must remain levitated throughout run
Track length must be at least
five feet in length. Longer
tracks are allowed, but only a
five foot section will be used for
Side rail height can be between 2.0 cm
and 5.0 cm.
Teams can bring their own sled and
track and use them, as long as the
supervisor verifies the track dimensions
(width, length, etc.), similar to the ramp
in gravity vehicle.
This home-built track was
used at the 2012 national
tournament at a total cost of
less than $30 and was not
damaged in transport from
Wisconsin to Florida via UPS.
Track is only five feet
long…easier for transport and
Don’t mind the slight crookedness…this was
fixed after the picture was taken. The side
walls should be perpendicular with the track.
The instruction manual for
creating this track will be
available on the Mag-Lev
page on the national website
Teams will have 8 minutes to predict the time of their
vehicle(s), then orient their vehicles appropriately,
adjust and repair their vehicle(s) and make two
successful runs on the track
Competitors must place their vehicle on the track
directly before the start line of the timed portion. A
pencil is used to hold it in place.
Competitors will indicate when they are ready and
turn on their motors. Vehicles are not allowed to be
touched once the motors are turned on.
The supervisor will give a “3, 2, 1, launch” the
competitor must the release the vehicle by removing
the the pencil and stepping away from the track.
Teams may use the same car for both runs or
elect to use a different vehicle for the second
run, but they may not change the predicted
If the car does not move in 3 seconds or the
vehicle does not travel the entire distance, the
team is allowed to restart without penalty as
many times as possible in the 8 minute time
Vernier photogates were used with lasers.
There is also a written test on magnetism. Topics
to be covered include:
Earth’s Magnetic Fields
Electromagnetic principles
Magnetic vs. non-magnetic materials
Common uses of magnets
Historical Development of Magnetic Theory & Technology
Superconducting MagLev Transportation Technology
Magnetic Force
Electric Motors and Generators
Magnetic Domains
Permenant magnets
Ferromagnetic materials
Medical uses of magnets and superconductors
A common concern is the cost of this event
Many schools already have Mag-Lev tracks
My school in Wisconsin had one in our old Technology Education
room that met specifications.
 A neighboring school has three tracks that all met specifications.
The cost of making a track can be shared with the Science
and/or Technology Education Department
I use my track in Physical Science and AP Physics B classes
Instructions for making a track to meet all specifications for less
than $30 are available on the national website. One of these tracks
were used at the National Tournament in 2012.
Successful cars can be made inexpensively
The car that was the WI Div C state champion in 2011 only cost
$9.50 for the parts not including two 9V batteries. Students can be
very creative and build a successful cheap car!
One common concern with this event is that
too many cars get “stuck” in the track and can’t
travel down the entire distance…the following
modifications were made to last year’s trial
Students have 8 minutes instead of 5 minutes
 Students can bring and impound their own track
and sled to use, after verification by supervisor
 Students are given an ideal time and adjust their sled
mass, allowing teams to get down the track and get
in Tier 1 even with very light sleds
Make sure your students closely investigate why
their vehicle stops in the track.
Is the car really stuck due to a width issue, or is the car
twisting in the track?
 Is their motor/battery/propeller combination too weak,
not giving their car enough thrust to overcome some
friction on the side walls?
 Is the car’s center of mass too high and the stability of the
vehicle low during its run, causing it to tip over?
The most successful teams in this event know their
cars, how to modify them, and understand how
balance, torque, and center of gravity are all
related on their specific car(s).
Great website from New York, but beware of the
rules changes for 2013:
Many resources will be posted on the National
www.soinc.org website as well, including a
sample scoring worksheet and EXCEL
spreadsheet for use by event supervisors to
compute team scores and an impound checklist.