Time needed: 60 minutes
- Vehicle Sketchbook
- Daisy Vehicle Diagram
- 2+ large sheets of paper
- 4 oz. (1/2 small pack) or more of white modeling foam (not foam beads), modeling clay, or dough
- Extra modeling foam, clay, or dough
- Tools for sculpting the foam/clay/dough, such as rolling pins, cookie cutters, dull plastic knives, hard materials with patterns, etc.
- A pair of safety scissors
- Scrap paper
- A pencil
- Optional: Tracing paper
Imagine riding in a cool new car that can park itself and doesn't pollute our air! Now, imagine it actually driving on the street—that's what automotive design teams do! Automotive design is thinking of new cars and other vehicles. A vehicle is a machine, like a car, truck, or motorcycle, that can move people or things from place to place.
Creative designers are the people who create new vehicles. They choose everything from the color of the vehicle to the shape of the headlights. It’s a big job to design a vehicle, so there are many people on the design team who focus on designing different parts of the vehicle.
For this activity, you’re going to design a brand-new vehicle that can help other people. You’ll brainstorm what your customer, the person who will be buying the vehicle, wants and needs before you sketch and sculpt a vehicle model.
To get started, think about your customer for the automotive design challenge. You can choose to design:
- A Girl Scout “troopmobile” for older girls who are going camping
- A mobile playground
- A bookmobile, which is a mobile library
PART 1: CREATE DESIGN CRITERIA FOR YOUR VEHICLE
Criteria are the things a product, such as a car, needs to have. Vehicles are made up of lots of parts. Some parts are in every vehicle, like the engine and wheels. Other parts are special, just for that kind of vehicle. These parts are called design features.
Different customers want different features. For example, some might want cupholders or TV screens for their passengers (the people riding in the car!). A parent driving a minivan might want doors that open and close by themselves. These are all special features created by creative designers.
For the first part of the activity:
- Pretend to be your customer. Ask yourself questions like: Where am I going? Why am I going there? How many passengers will there be? What do I need to bring with me? What do I like and dislike? For example, what’s my favorite color? Draw any ideas on a sheet of scrap paper.
- Ask yourself other questions that focus on how you can design a vehicle for your customer. For example, what would they need or want in the interior (inside) of the vehicle? What do they want on the exterior (outside) of the vehicle? What could make the vehicle useful? What could make it fun? Draw any ideas on a sheet of scrap paper.
- Look at the two criteria checklists in the Vehicle Sketchbook. What required parts do you see for the vehicle interior? What required parts do you see for the vehicle exterior? What does each part do? If needed, check out the Daisy Vehicle Diagram to find out more about each vehicle part.
- Add special features to your criteria checklists in the Vehicle Sketchbook. Draw any special features for the exterior under the other exterior parts, like the wheels and hood, on page 1. Draw any special features for the interior under the other interior parts, like the seats and steering wheel, on page 2.
PART 2: SKETCH YOUR VEHICLE
After creative designers have an idea for a new vehicle, they sketch many different pictures of it. They’ll draw the exterior of the vehicle and the interior, too. This helps creative designers to think about every part of their design.
Once designers have their ideas drawn on paper, they can share their sketches with their teammates. The team can work together to look over the sketches, ask questions, identify any problems, and exchange ideas to make the design even better.
For the next part of the activity, use your imagination and criteria to sketch your vehicle:
- On page 1 of the Vehicle Sketchbook, draw the exterior parts and features included on your criteria checklist on the vehicle outline.
- On page 2 of the Vehicle Sketchbook, draw the interior parts and features included on your criteria checklist on the vehicle outline
If you need ideas to get started, check out the tips below:
- Use tracing paper to try out different ideas. If you have tracing paper, you can see what a special feature looks like before adding it to your sketch. First, draw the feature on a piece of tracing paper. Then, place the tracing paper over your drawing to see if you like it as part of your final design.
- Be bold! Use markers or colored pencils to add color to your sketches.
- Imagine your vehicle. Close your eyes and think about your vehicle and how it will help your customer. What does it look like?
- Design a vehicle that's good at its special job. What does your vehicle need to do? What does your customer want and need? What special features or parts did you include in your design criteria? What else can you add?
- Start simple, then add details. First, draw the shape and size of your vehicle. Then, add in your criteria, including all the important parts and special features.
PART 3: SCULPT YOUR VEHICLE
Automotive design teams also sculpt models of their vehicles. A model might be made of clay or wood, or even made by a 3D printer. Just like a drawing, a model helps teams show their idea to others and look for ways to make the design even better. Sometimes, automotive design teams make a model of a whole vehicle. Other times, they’ll make a model of a specific part, like the steering wheel, to show more details.
Next, you’re going to be a clay sculptor! That’s a person on the design team who sculpts models of the vehicle out of clay.
For the next part of the activity, pretend to be a clay sculptor and:
- Use your criteria and sketches to create a sculpted model of your vehicle.
- Once your foam, clay, or dough dries, add color and trim to your model vehicle with markers (if you can)!
If you need ideas to get started, check out the tips below:
Learn how to use your material. Knead, or mash-up, the modeling foam, clay, or dough to soften it up. Then use the different tools to shape it.
- Let your sketches be your guide. Don’t forget to look at your sketches as you sculpt. If you can, use safety scissors to cut around your drawings (interior and exterior). Then hold them up around the foam, clay, or dough to show the 3-D shape of your vehicle from each angle (front, back, side, and top).
- Use tools to add details. Use rolling pins, cookie cutters, or any other tools to shape the foam, clay, or dough before adding patterns and details. For example, you might use the tools to form the different parts, make cutouts, or stamp impressions.
- Be bold! If your model dries in time, use markers to add color and other details. If you aren’t able to color your sculpted model, don’t worry! People can see your color choices in your sketches.
- It’s okay to change your design. As you sculpt your vehicle, you might make changes to your design. For example, you might decide to take out or add a special feature. That’s what design is all about: exploring an idea and making it better.
- And that’s it! When you imagine what the customer wants or needs, you're doing what a creative designer does. You used what you learned about your customer to create a list of the design criteria, including all the important parts and special features for your vehicle. Then you used your criteria to sketch and sculpt your vehicle.
- If you had fun doing this, you might want to continue designing vehicles with the Daisy Automotive Engineering three-badge series.