Physics Class Builds Mouse Trap Race Cars
The mouse trap race car project is an opportunity to reinforce some kinematic concepts in physics. Because physics is taught one idea at a time using one set of equations for that idea, it is difficult to see the interconnection of physics principals and equations. Projects, like the mouse trap race car, are designed to show students that physics formulas and physics concepts work together to define complex systems around them.
The race car we use has three adjustable components – the wheel diameter, the lever arm length and the mouse trap location. These combine for 18 possible race configurations. One part of this project requires students to build an excel spreadsheet, using the physics equations they have learned, that calculates some 30 different values of the race car for just one of these particular setups. Then expand the spreadsheet to cover all 18 combinations. For the first time, students are able to see the interaction of the equations from different physics chapters coming together to describe a race car.
Mr. DeVillierÕs Physics Class – Mouse Trap Car Race Project