Mousetrap cars are a great project that lets students create a car that is powered by a mousetrap. This might sound like an easy thing to do but you will find out it is much harder than you think- especially if your car is to go far and stay within the constraints of the project. You might be asking yourself why we would do this or how this is considered educational- so let me explain.
In the classroom students will research ideas (via internet), plan, sketch and draw their car. We will cover topics such as; potential energy, kinetic energy, mechanical energy, surface friction, aerodynamics, traction and others.
Also, we can discuss how the circumference of the wheel is related to how far the car will go. We can even calculate the speed of the car if we record the distance the car travels and how long it took to complete its path.
In the lab students will have to use their drawings to create their car.
CDs, DVD, records, lids and/or cardboard for wheels
Wood, foam-core, and/or cardboard for the body/ chassis
Wooden dowels and/or welding rod for the axles
And of course a mousetrap for the “engine” of the car
On race day, students will have to ensure their car is in top performing condition which will require several trial runs. During the trial runs, students must tweak their car to improve its performance through a series of troubleshooting and trial and error work.
So, are YOU up for the challenge?
Here are some student mousetrap cars from this year.