WEST ORANGE, NJ – The “Materials Engineering Unit” of the West Orange High School Principles of Engineering course was recently recognized by the New Jersey School Boards Association’s (NJSBA) A+ Ideas, Programs and Practices as an “exemplary” school program. The "Car Crash Simulation" performance-based assessment was also recognized.

The “Car Crash Simulation” performance-based project integrates all four components of STEM—science, technology, engineering and math—to help solve the real-world issue of improving car safety technology.

As described on the NJSBA website, “students must use their understanding of how different materials have properties that react differently to forces (science), and car safety systems to design a model car chassis that is optimized for safety (technology and engineering).”

Sign Up for E-News

“They take on the role of a vehicle safety engineer to develop and fabricate a car chassis that is to be evaluated in a frontal collision test, and a side impact collision test,” the website states.

“The chassis needs to be built with a limited supply of materials, and the following criteria: No larger than 5s-by-8 inches; a seat for the driver; one passive safety system (such as a seatbelt); one hinged door that opens, closes and latches; and a minimum 120-degree field of vision for the driver. Students know ahead of time that the driver of their vehicle is an egg, and they will be assessed on whether the egg is dislodged or cracked in the collision. Students also analyze real crash tests to calculate force, velocities, vehicle weights, and miles per hour in relation to their simulated crash test (math).”

West Orange students analyzed real crash tests to calculate force, velocities, vehicle weights, and miles per hour in relation to their simulated crash test. The design had to be lightweight and safe to lower fuel consumption and manufacturing costs and design safer vehicles. The goal was to design a prototype that would protect the egg during front and side crashes and to protect the egg from cracking. 

“It was a great job by teachers Katie Gardner and Anthony Prasa, who have raised the rigor and student expectations of this course over the past few years,” said Supervisor of Technology and Engineering Ryan DelGuercio.