A mousetrap car is a fun and easy way for kids to learn about basic motor mechanics and physics. It is a small vehicle that is powered only by mousetrap. The mousetrap is tied to a string, which allows it to move long distances. Many physics classes often have competitions to see who can build a mousetrap car that goes the longest distance. There are a variety of ways to make a mousetrap car go far.
Have a long, light body. The mousetrap car body is usually a wooden or foam block. Choose the lightest body to increase speed and distance. Foam is sometimes susceptible to breaking. The body can even be smaller than the mousetrap.
Use large wheels. The larger your rear wheels are, the better. Because the front wheels are not tied to the mousetrap, their size has less effect on the distance. Small wheels for the front may even be beneficial to decrease weight. CDs are great to use for wheels.
Place your mousetrap as far to the front as possible. Mousetrap cars will go farther if the spring has more distance from the back wheels.
Create traction on the wheels. Add rubber bands, or tape around the wheels to give them better traction. The better the wheels can grip the floor, the farther the mousetrap car will go.
Use a long rod to attach to the mousetrap spring. When the mousetrap is released, the long lever creates a mechanical advantage.
Things You'll Need:
- Mousetrap car body
- String or rubber band
- 4 wheels, different sizes
- 2 rods (one for the axle, one for the mousetrap lever)
Based in Portland, Dwight Benignus has written since 2007 for the economics blog Raincheckonomics. His essay, "Voice of the Future," has been published by Elder & Leemaur Publishers. He graduated from the University of Texas at Dallas with a Bachelor of Arts and Technology and is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in renewable energy engineering from the Oregon Institute of Technology.