Build a Wind-Powered Sail Car

Sail Car Example

STEAM Fair 2020 Activity

Thanks to St. Anne’s School of Annapolis

Learn how to build a toy car powered by a fan in this fun engineering project!

What you need:

  • Paper
  • dowel
  • straws
  • wheels
  • axel pegs
  • thick cardboard
  • scissors
  • tape

Warning: this does include small pieces.


How to build the Wind-Powered Sail Car

  1. Build Car Base

    Cut a base for your car approximately 4.5″ (width of car) by 8″ (length of car) using corrugated or stiff cardboard (not provided).

  2. Build Axels

    Put each of your four wooden wheels on the axel pegs. Then, insert the pegs and wheels into both ends of each straw.

  3. Attach Axels to Car

    Tape one straw across the width of the cardboard, approximately 1″ from the end. Repeat with the other straw approximately 1″ from the other end. The straws should now be parallel and approximately 6″ apart.

  4. Base of Sail Car

    Turn the cardboard over and you now have the base of your sail car.

  5. Create Sail

    Pick the size and material of your first sail and attach it to the vertical dowel.

  6. Attach Sail to Car

    Use your long wooden dowel and attach it to, or carefully poke it through, the middle of the cardboard base. You may need extra cardboard and/or tape to make it stand upright.

  7. Add Wind

    Set up your sail car in front of a fan, turn it on, and see how far it goes. Don’t forget to mark its spot!

  8. Experiment with Different Sail Materials

    Replace the sail with another material and try again! See which sail makes your sail car go the farthest.


Think about which sail worked best and why. Was it the material? Size? Shape? What other modifications could you make to improve the car’s speed or distance?