From Raw Materials to Dreams

Language Arts/Art/Science

Students research the source of raw and manufactured materials used in the production of automobiles or other vehicles.

What You Need

  • Magazines, books, brochures about automobiles
  • Reference materials on automobile manufacturing
  • Poster board
  • Drawing materials

What to Do

  1. Tell students that they are going to learn more about the process that makes a real automobile out of a designer's idea of a dream car.

  2. Divide students into teams that include a variety of talents: writers, researchers, artists, organizers, the mechanically adept, good printers. Have the teams look at magazines and other materials with pictures and descriptions of automobiles. Encourage each student to design a dream car, the automobile she or he would most like to own as an adult.

  3. Since individual students within a team may favor different models, ask each team to come to a consensus on which model they would like to diagram. Suggest that each proponent take about three minutes to "sell" the model to teammates. Then have the group vote for a single choice.

  4. Each team will create a diagram, on a poster board, of their favorite car. The diagram should use legends to explain where the major parts and materials (such as chrome, steel, rubber, and glass) come from. For example, they might draw a line from a tire to an informative caption that traces the process of turning raw rubber into a tire. Teams should divide among themselves the responsibilities for the different tasks, such as making the diagram, researching specific comments, writing the text for the legends, and hand lettering the text (or producing labels on a computer).

  5. Have a spokesperson for each team present the completed diagram to the whole group. Display the posters so that students can study them individually or in teams.

Teaching Options

  • Have students include a global map on which they indicate where the raw materials that go into each car originate.
  • Some students may be able to diagram the process by which a car reaches an owner, that is, the parts moving to the manufacturer from different plants, being put together on an assembly line, shipping to showrooms, and so forth.
  • Students can print advertisements for automobiles to analyze the persuasive language. They highlight words and ideas with strong emotional content and make an oral presentation to describe how that language is used to persuade buyers.
  • Have students write a first-person account of an "adventure" they have in their dream car.


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