Baruch Step Bridges 2013

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Mouse Trap Race Cars

on July 15, 2013

This week we will be focused on making mouse trap powered race cars!

Now whoever came up with the idea of mouse trap powered race cars had too much time on their hands.  Or else they had too many mouse traps on their hands!  The mouse trap is really a simple machine that uses a lever to accomplish it’s gruesome task.  Energy is stored in the spring and then transferred to the hammer for the trap to work.  We added string to the lever (which we extended) and attached that to an axle o our cars.  The axle then rotated and transferred the stored energy to our wheels.


When we built our cars we added some variety to make it more interesting.  If we all drove the same car it would be boring.  Just like real life, some of our cars when faster, and some went farther with the same amount of energy being used.  Some of the cars were very complicated and some required patience and quick thinking.  The basic components of each car were the same however.


The principles of motion were also the same for each car. Motion is all around us yet it can be hard to explain.  The Greeks tried over 2,000 years ago to describe motion but failed.  They did not understand the concept of rate of change.  If you describe motion there is a change in the rate over time.  We use the formula s = d / t.  Speed equals distance divided by time!  We also dealt with friction.  This is the force that results when sliding or rolling two objects past each other.   Some friction is good – like the tires sticking to the ground.  Some friction is bad – like the axles when attached to the frame of the car.

Hey Newton! How bout some help here!

Now we have all heard of Newton’s Laws, and this is a perfect example of how they apply to the real world.

Law #1: An object continues in its state of rest or motion in a straight line unless acted upon by an outside force, and it is compelled to change by the forces acting on it.

Law #2: Acceleration of an object is in direct proportion to the force acting on the object, and inversely affected by its mass.

Law #3: When one object asserts force on a second object, the second object exerts an equal and opposite force on the first object.

While there is no one perfect ways to build cars, we made adjustments to improve performance.  And just like on the tracks of NASCAR, we had thrills and spills!  Great job by all!


One response to “Mouse Trap Race Cars

  1. Nicholas Lawrence says:

    My favorite part of the class was the mouse trap powered racing cars because even though my car did not work too well. I thought it was cool that the car was able to propel itself forward with no electric motor.

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