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Volunteering at Scouts is changing to help us reach more young people

Volunteering is changing to help us reach more young people

Volunteering is changing at Scouts. Read more

Discover what this means
Supported by Rolls-Royce

Make an electric car

Put electricity to the test and make a moving car from recycled materials.

Back to Activities

You’ll need

  • Activity instructions pdf
  • 2 empty, tall 250ml drinks cans (per car)
  • 2 long wooden skewers (per car)
  • Flat rubber band
  • Recycled, clean cardboard (such as boxes)
  • Round low voltage toy or hobby DC motor (per car)
  • 2 AA batteries (per car)
  • Crocodile clips and insulated wires
  • Pencil
  • Glue gun
  • Small screwdriver or bradawl
  • Scissors
  • Small saw
  • Something to protect tables and surfaces
  • Sticky tack
  • Wooden surface such as chopping board
Make An Electric Car
PDF – 254.5KB

Before you begin 

  • Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. There's also more guidance to help you carry out your risk assessment, including examples. Don’t forget to make sure all young people and adults involved in the activity know how to take part safely. 
  • Make sure you’ll have enough adult helpers. You may need some parents and carers to help if you’re short on helpers. 
  • Set up the activity area by protecting the table surfaces, as a hot glue gun will be used. 

Run the activity

  1. Gather everyone together. Ask everyone if they’ve heard of electric cars and know what they are. Have they seen any electric car charging points in their local area? Ask if anyone knows what the benefits of electric cars are for the environment. An electric car doesn’t have a petrol or diesel engine, instead it has an electric motor, power electronics, and a battery pack. Electric cars better for the environment in terms of reducing emissions from using petrol/diesel powered cars.  
  2. Explain that today everyone will be making their own mini-electric car in groups or pairs. Ask everyone to get into groups or pairs, depending on the number of people.
  3. Carry out a safety briefing showing everyone how to use the equipment safety, including the scissors, hot glue gun, saw to cut skewers and piercing holes in the metal cans. These tasks should also have close adult supervision. You could also hold a demonstration of how to make the car.  
  4. Remind people to wear any protective equipment (such as goggles) as needed, tuck in loose clothing (such as neckers), and have long hair tied back. 
  5. Give out the equipment to each group or pair. This should include a copy of the car template. 
  6. First, draw the car template onto the cardboard and then cut it out. Next, trace each end of the can onto the cardboard, then cut the two circles out.
  7. With close adult supervision, use a bradawl or screwdriver to carefully pierce a small hole in the bottom of a can. Remember to use a flat, wooden surface underneath the circle when making the hole with the screwdriver or bradawl and always avoid holding the cardboard in your hands.
  8. Carefully, again with adult supervision, pierce a hole in the middle of the cardboard circles. To make the holes, use a pencil with sticky tack to poke the pencil into through the cardboard. Remember to do this on a flat surface, avoiding holding it in hands when making the circle.
  9. Using the hot glue gun, glue the two cardboard circles onto each end of the can. These are the wheels.
  10. Carefully, with adult supervision, use a saw to cut a wooden skewer to 16cm. Thread the wooden skewer through the hole in the cardboard circles and can, making the axle.
  11. Repeat this process with the second can.
  12. Place the cans down apart from each other horizontally, about 10cm apart, with one being the rear axle of the car and one being the front axle. 
  13. Loop the rubber band around the rear can. Then, using the hot glue gun, fix the skewer in place around the can with blobs of glue. The cans and rubber band should move freely. 
  14. Using the hot glue gun, add the car’s sides and roof to the cans.
  15. Carefully glue the motor and battery inside the car, onto the cardboard base, with the motor being closer to the rear can with the elastic band on. Place one end of the rubber band around the drive shaft of the motor. The rubber band should be taut around the motor and the rear can, being unrestricted by the cardboard base.
  16. Now, connect the motor and battery using the wire. Then, it’s time to take the electric cars for a test drive to see how fast they can go! 


This activity helped us to understand the importance of electric cars in reducing pollution and show them the basics of how they work. Electric cars are not new. The first was built 200 years ago, but there are now more than one million electric cars in Europe. Electric cars have environmental benefits, such as reducing air and noise pollution. However, electric cars still require energy to run and this isn’t always ‘clean’ energy, but a few solar and wind-powered charging stations are available around the UK. Owners can also use renewable energy to charge their vehicles by having solar panels installed at home, to offset their electricity usage. What do you think about electric cars? How else could we make improvements to make cars, and electric cars, better for the environment?  

This activity also helped to show us how they work. The DC motor has moving parts that take electrical power in the form of a direct current from a power source, such as a battery, which is connected to a circuit. The motor then converts this power into movement, which propels the car forward. 

This activity was also all about working together as a team and solving problems. When everyone works as a team, we can share ideas and help each other to find solutions to problems. What problems did you have, if any, when making the car? How did you resolve them? How did you work with your partner or group too, making sure everyone was involved?


All activities must be safely managed. You must complete a thorough risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Always get approval for the activity, and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.

Glue and solvents

Always supervise young people appropriately when they’re using glue and solvent products. Make sure there’s plenty of ventilation. Be aware of any medical conditions that could be affected by glue or solvent use and make adjustments as needed.


Supervise young people appropriately when they’re using scissors. Store all sharp objects securely, out of the reach of young people.

Hand and electric tools

Inspect tools for any damage before each use. An adult should supervise people using tools, and people should follow instructions on how to use them correctly and safely. Tools should be properly maintained and kept sharp.

Use an appropriate surface and make sure materials are stable and supported when you’re working on them. You should cut and drill away from the body and in an area clear of other people. Be extra cautious of trailing cables and water when using electric tools. Always use a cordless tool if one’s available.

Sharp objects

Teach young people how to use sharp objects safely. Supervise them appropriately throughout. Store all sharp objects securely, out of the reach of young people.

An adult may want to do some of the tasks in advance for the group, depending on their age and ability, such as the cutting the wooden skewers and piercing the holes in the can. 

Make it accessible

All Scout activities should be inclusive and accessible.

You could test out the cars on different types of surfaces, such as carpet, tiled floor, laminate, grass or tarmac. Carry out an experiment to see which surface the cars work best on, such as which makes them go faster or slower