How to make a mousetrap car

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This project results in a simple mousetrap car. It probably won’t go very far or fast, but you can see how stored, potential energy isconverted into kinetic energy.

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When you’re finished with this project, you can try building a more complex car with the suggestions listed at the end of the article.

SAFETY NOTE: Mousetraps are dangerous! If one snaps back on your hand it could break a finger.This project requires adult permission and supervision.

What You Need:Wooden snap-back mousetrapDuct tape4 eye hooksWooden dowel that fits inside the eye hooksHeavy cardboardFoam board (usually found at a craft store)Ruler or straight edgeUtility knifePliersWhat You Do:

1. Cut four wheels out of a piece of foam board or corrugated cardboard (adult supervision is necessary).

2. Make the back wheels about double the diameter of the front wheels. (Use a compass to draw the circles, or trace around a bowl or cup.)

3. Give your wheels some traction by stretching large rubber bands around each wheel. For the small wheels, you could also try using a section of a balloon.

4. Remove any metal or plastic teeth on the mousetrap with pliers.

5. Remove the rod that is used lớn set the trap.

6. Cut a piece of strong cardboard so that it is slightly larger (about 1/2″) than the mousetrap on every side. This is the base of the car, known as thechassis.

7. Attach the mousetrap khổng lồ the chassis, using duct tape. Don’t cover up the spring in the middle of the trap or the “snapper arm.”


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8. Screw the eye hooks onto the bottom of the cardboard chassis, one in each corner. Use a ruler khổng lồ make sure that the eye hooks are aligned with each other.

9. Cut the wooden dowel so you have two pieces that are both about two inches longer than the width of the chassis. These will serve as your axles that rotate the wheels.

10. Stick the dowels through the eye loops. Make sure that the axles are straight & that there is room for them khổng lồ spin in the eye hooks.

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11. Cut holes a little bit smaller than the dowel through the center of each wheel, then attach the wheels lớn the chassis. Put the large wheels on the back of the car, opposite the snapper arm.

12. Wrap a small rubber band around the axle on either side of each wheel so the wheels can’t fall off.

13. Tie a string very tightly khổng lồ the snapper arm on the mouse trap. The string should be long enough to just reach lớn the back axle.

14. Pull back the snapper arm until it reaches the other over of the trap, carefully. (You may need help.)

15. Hold the snapper arm in place and wrap the string tightly around one side of the axle. Holding the string tightly, phối the car on the ground và carefully let go of the trap – the string should be wound tight enough that it holds the trap in place.

16. Let go of the string (after making sure all hands are out of the way!). The trap will snap forward, propelling your car.

What Happened:

Aset mousetrapis full of potential energy which, when released, is converted to kinetic (motion) energy. The design of your car allowed that energy lớn be transferred lớn the axle to lớn make the wheels turn. When the trap snapped closed, it yanked the string forward. As the string was pulled, friction between it and the axle caused the axle to lớn rotate, spinning the wheels and moving the car forward.

There are many different ways khổng lồ build a mousetrap car. Your simple mã sản phẩm moves forward a few feet, but how could you thiết kế it khổng lồ go longer distances? Or how could you kiến thiết it khổng lồ go faster? Here are some things to think about:

wheel-to-axle ratio. For distance cars, larger wheels are best. Every time your axle turns one time, so vày your wheels — if the wheels have a much larger diameter than the axle, the oto will go further on each turn of the axle than it would if the wheels were smaller. It takes more force khổng lồ accelerate a oto with a large wheel-to-axle ratio, so smaller wheels will work better if you want your oto to be fast.inertia.Newton’s first law of motion states that objects at rest tend khổng lồ stay at rest, và objects in motion tend lớn stay in motion unless acted on by an external force. Inertia is the tendency lớn resist changes in motion, & the more inertia something has, the more force will be necessary to lớn change its state of motion. If your mousetrap car is very heavy, it will require greater force lớn get it moving. To lớn avoid too much inertia, think about how you can build a lighter car.the rate of energy release.If the energy from the mousetrap is released quickly, your oto will accelerate quickly and run faster. However, it will also run out of energy sooner. If the energy from the mousetrap is released slowly, the oto will move slower, but be powered for a longer distance. One way to lớn try making the energy release slower is khổng lồ lengthen the lever arm by attaching something (pencil, dowel, etc.) lớn the snapper arm & tying the string to the end of that. (This will give you a longer piece of string than the one tied directly lớn the snapper arm.)friction.Analyze all the points of friction on your car, where two substances rubbing together can slow the oto down or bring it khổng lồ a stop. Think especially of how to lớn reduce friction between your axle and the eye hooks attaching them khổng lồ the toàn thân of the car. Some friction is good, however – the friction that enables the wheels to grip the floor is calledtraction, and without it, the force of the trap may make your wheels “spin out” instead of propelling the oto forward. The above procedure used rubber bands khổng lồ provide traction; can you think of a better way?

Other ideas for improving the car:

make it more durable by using lightweight wood such as balsa or basswood instead of cardboard.use CDs or records as the wheels.glue a small hook to lớn the axle & connect the string khổng lồ it with a small loop, then wrap the string by turning the wheels in reverse.

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