Spoilers: for show, or for performance?

Student: Phineas Dunne
Table: 20
Experimentation location: Peddie Boarding School Gym (I live on campus.)
Regulated Research (Form 1c): No
Project continuation (Form 7): No




“Everything you need to know about spoilers and wings.” GBChoice, gbchoice.com/blog/post/all-you-need-know-about-wings-and-spoilers.


Hiram, Carl

What’s the Point and Purpose of a Rear Spoiler on a Vehicle? www.carlblackhiram.com/blog/whats-the-point-and-purpose-of-a-rear-spoiler-on-a-vehicle/.



Krome, Charles. “What Does a Spoiler Do on a Car?” CARFAX, 29 Sept. 2020, www.carfax.com/blog/what-does-a-spoiler-do-on-a-car.


Paydarfar, Hamed, and Hamed Paydarfar                                    (95 Articles Published)                                                                                                                                                                                    . “This Is the Effect That Spoilers Truly Have on an Everyday Car.” HotCars, 25 Apr. 2021, www.hotcars.com/this-is-the-effect-that-spoilers-truly-have-on-an-everyday-car/.


Ulitskaya, Jane     October  1, 2021, et al. “What Does a Spoiler Do?: Newso.” Cars.com, Cars.com, www.cars.com/articles/what-does-a-spoiler-do-424902/.






Additional Project Information

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Research paper:
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Research Plan:


When engineering a spoiler in this experiment it is necessary to know how a spoiler affects a car’s performance. This aerodynamic accessory is used on cars to create downforce and prevent lift which helps the vehicles handling, control and overall performance (Ulitskaya par 4). Using different shapes of spoilers in this experiment will change the airflow also known as “dead spots” which greatly affects downforce, speed, and performance of the vehicle (Hiram par 6). Knowing what aerodynamics is crucial in this test and can be demonstrated by sticking your hand out a window and changing the angle which is how a spoiler works on the road (Krome par 3).


    When an engineer designs a spoiler they use a lift to drag ratio (Paydarfar par 10). Lift to drag ratio tries to maximize downforce as it helps the car to reach peak performance around corners which helps maintain perfect and optimal speed and will be used in this experiment to simulate a real world performance.(Paydarfar par 10). Spoilers on the cars used in this experiment will take many shapes and sizes to figure out what spoilers create the most optimal speed, downforce, handling, control, grip  and overall performance (“Spoiler” par 10). All these factors and variables will be accounted for and taken note to try to simulate a real world environment and find how spoilers really affect vehicles and try to maximize the cars peak performance.



Questions and Answers

1. What was the major objective of your project and what was your plan to achieve it? 

       a. Was that goal the result of any specific situation, experience, or problem you encountered?  
The goal of the experiment was to test if spoilers on cars do truly affect speed, or if they are just for show. This experiment proved the research and the experimenters hyphoseis was accepted.

       b. Were you trying to solve a problem, answer a question, or test a hypothesis?

I was both trying to answer my question and hypothesis , how does a spoiler affect speed; and If the shape of a spoiler on a vehicle is taller, then the speed will increase..

2. What were the major tasks you had to perform in order to complete your project?

       a. For teams, describe what each member worked on.

The major tasks were designing the spoilers, making sure the control was in fact correct, and most importantly, the procedure.

3. What is new or novel about your project?

       a. Is there some aspect of your project's objective, or how you achieved it that you haven't done before?

I have personally never been good at wood work and neither am I a Boy Scout, so working with the derby cars was a fun learning experience. I have been extremely interested in cars since I was born, so being able to understand the science was incredibly compelling. 

       b. Is your project's objective, or the way you implemented it, different from anything you have seen?

Yes, most derby cars are used by Boy Scouts in races against others, while my experiment was against the design and cars themselves. 

       c. If you believe your work to be unique in some way, what research have you done to confirm that it is?

Yes and no. Yes, as what I previously mentioned above as I designed spoilers, not the car body themselves. No because while I have never seen this experiment conducted, I did take inspiration from the Boy Scout.

4. What was the most challenging part of completing your project?

      a. What problems did you encounter, and how did you overcome them?

The biggest problem was making sure all the cars weighed the same. As mass can not be a variable, I had to use metal washers to make sure the vehicles all weighed the same in grams. After I measured out all the cars, I made a mistake of adding the weight to design 2, and not the control, causing me to have to redo the experiment. 

      b. What did you learn from overcoming these problems?

I was extremely frustrated after learning my mistake, but my dad helped reassure me that it would be fine, and it was. This taught me that while there may be some bumps in the road, reaching the finish line is most important. (No pun intended 😉)

5. If you were going to do this project again, are there any things you would you do differently the next time?

Yes. There is one that stands out to me the most. I personally would have taken the time to put the washers inside the cars or secure them further with nails instead of using wood glue. The wood glue was good, but once or twice a washer had to be put back on.

6. Did working on this project give you any ideas for other projects? 

Yes! I would love to be able to tweak other elements of the car like the bumpers, side skirts and even the car body itself to see what car would deliver the most optimal performance.

7. How did COVID-19 affect the completion of your project?

Coranavirus was a certainly a “roadblock” I had to overcome. My mother works at Peddie, the boarding school in my town which has been fairly strict since Omicron has emerged. I had to submit a test before I was able to use the gym, and due to the build up of cases, it set my schedule of by a week. I also experienced supply chain issues when I ordered the cars of Amazon, as they arrived 3 weeks later than anticipated.