Mouse Trap Race Car

As part of our Science curriculum the kids built a Mousetrap Race Car with their dad today. Not only was this a fun handicraft to do, it was also a great lesson in force and energy. We learned about the two types of energy and we watched with excitement how energy changed from potential (stored) energy to kinetic energy when we set off the trap and watched as the car raced across the kitchen floor! 

Who knew Science could be so much fun?
Source:  SuperCharged Science


How we did it:

After building the race car with the piece of styrofoam, bottle caps, CD's, etc..   We attached a straight piece of a coat hanger to the "handle" of the mouse trap and then a piece of string to its tip.  The next step is to wind the free end of the string to the back axel of one wheel by spinning the wheels backwards.   The coat hanger wire is then pulled down and the mouse trap becomes "loaded".

How it works:

The mouse trap is triggered by placing a pen or anything but a finger!  (Very important!)  on the mouse trap where the cheese would go.  As the coat hanger shoots upwards, the string unrolls from the axel thereby spinning the wheels and driving the car forward.

The science behind it:

The energy was first stored in the spring of the mousetrap as elastic potential energy.  When the trap is triggered, the energy is transformed into kinetic energy as rotation of the wheels.

In Physics we learn about the First Law of Thermodynamics, which says that energy cannot be created or destroyed, but it CAN change forms.  In this activity, energy changed from elastic potential energy to kinetic energy.



The complete instructions and additional information on this experiment is part of a Homeschool Science Activity Manual by  SuperCharged Science.   I was able to take advantage of a special offer and got the manual for free.  The author, Aurora Lipper, frequently offers her activity manuals for free, and even allows access to ALL her experiments in all areas of science for only $1 for a one month trial.   It's definitely worth looking into if you have kids that are scientifically minded, or just tired of learning science in books only.   The hands-on stuff is so much more fun!

1 comment:

  1. What a great project. It looks like they were really creative with the materials. I can see CD's, plastic bottle caps and the mouse trap. How does it go? Do they cut the string to make it go?

    I see you left me a comment on Homeschool Hobbies and Handicrafts week 4. Week 5 is open if you would like to link-up.