Snowy Mountain Peaks

PRE-RACE MISSION

OVERVIEW

The dog sled, much like any other technology, has evolved over the years. For thousands of years, sleds have been used for a variety of reasons which include a means of transportation and carrying freight. 

The Inuit people have been using and building sleds for thousands of years. Aside from the common practice of using wood as a primary material, traditional Inuit sled designs have been known to include materials such as antler, bone, ivory, moss, frozen fish, and animal hides. Nowadays, sleds are certainly still designed using wood, and some people continue to use whatever materials they have at hand including some of the aforementioned. With the evolution of sled design and purpose, mushers now often use sleds that are constructed using materials which include steel, plastics, titanium, aluminum, carbon fiber and even hockey sticks. When the race first started, mushers would typically use sleds constructed primarily out of wood. 

Generally speaking, there are two types of sleds: basket sleds and toboggan sleds. Basket sleds typically have a flatbed that is raised above the runners. This area allows for items, and in some cases tired dogs, to be stored. Mushers will typically use a sled bag made out of a nylon or cordura to store their required gear. Toboggan sleds share some similarities with basket sleds; however, a significant difference is that the bed is directly mounted to the runners. 

According to Iditarod race rule 15, “A musher has a choice of sled subject to the requirement that some type of sled or toboggan must be drawn. The sled or toboggan must be capable of hauling any injured or fatigued dogs under cover, plus equipment and food.”

materials

  • Clean popsicle sticks

  • Toothpicks

  • Glue

  • Scissors

  • Pipe cleaner or piece of wire

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PROCEDURE

  1. Lay two popsicle sticks down for runners. Cut two sticks in half. Then lay the two halves on each other and glue them to the runners, one on each end. Make sure to leave a small amount of space on each end. Let dry.
     

  2. Lay four sticks down in the exact middle of the runners (next to one another) as a flat base. Glue them down so that one end fits squarely and the other end sticks out over the runners. Let dry. 
     

  3. Cut four more sticks in half. Glue 5 of the halves together as shown laying the pieces on two more stick halves. This will serve as the back support. Glue one half at the very bottom of the piece and one at the top, but make sure to leave a little room at the top so the five curved tops still show. 
     

  4. Glue the piece from Step #3 on the end of the runners where the base ends squarely. 
     

  5. Glue two sticks as rails along the base. The flat part of the sticks should face sideways. Glue the tops next to the vertical piece and the bottoms next to the base. The rails should slope downward like a slide. 
     

  6. Cut toothpicks in three different heights. Make two equal sets of the toothpicks. Glue them to the side rails and runners. 
     

  7. Cut two small sections of pipe cleaner or wire and bend them as handles. 
     

  8. Glue one pipe cleaner / wire at the base of the front of the sled and one at the top for a handlebar. 

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expand the challenge

Looking to expand the challenge and make a large-scale sled? ​Look no further!

Imagine you are working with a team of engineers from an engineering company that specializes in the design and manufacturing of dog-sleds. A musher has reached out to you because his current sled is not effectively carrying his gear. Your challenge is to design a sled that can effectively carry a specific weight down an inclined plane.

MATERIALS

  • cardboard

  • duct tape

  • binder clips

  • straws

  • rubber bands

  • any choice of available textile (cotton, silk, felt, etc.)

  • batteries

  • wood

  • string

  • plastic casings and frames

  • plus any other household gear you wish to use

YOUR CHALLENGE: Your sled must be able to carry at least 4 ounces for 50 feet. Additionally, your sled must be able to travel down an inclined plane and completely cross the finish line.

THE ENGINEERING PROCESS

  1. IDENTIFY THE NEED AND PROBLEM: What problem are you solving? What is your mission? What are the design requirements and constraints? What determines the success of your design(s)?
     

  2. RESEARCH THE NEED OF THE PROBLEM: Examine what you have for resources. What is your knowledge about speed, weight, effective sleds, and the potential and beneficial uses of each available design material?
     

  3. DEVELOP POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS: Brainstorm 3 possible solutions (even if the solution sounds too crazy). Evaluate the possible solutions by talking to others and asking for their opinion on reasons why it was desirable or undesirable.
     

  4. SELECT THE BEST POSSIBLE SOLUTION: Determine which solution best meets the original requirements (it might be a combination, or 1 of the 3 possible solutions).
     

  5. CONSTRUCT A PROTOTYPE: Draw a detailed specification of your best solution. Build a prototype from this specification.
     

  6. TEST & EVALUATE: Does it work? 

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