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Mousetrap Racers Teach Transportation, Technology

Homemade Race Cars and a Simple Propulsion System Drive Home Lessons

Mousetrap Racer  
Jefferson Academic Center recently held its first Mousetrap Racer Championship where eighth-grade students in Ramesh Nathai’s Technology and Industrial Design Class learned about transportation and problem solving while engaged in an inter-class competition. Nathai initiated this project for several reasons – to teach his students about transportation technology, the laws of motion, and how to form hypotheses; to provide a forum to problem solve through hands-on trial and error; and to create excitement among the underclassmen about his technology class when the mousetrap derby was held in the school gym. Jefferson Academic Center is an Eastern Suffolk BOCES school that provides Special Education services to students.


Group shot of winners     Three racers at the starting line

Students designed and built race cars from supplied materials that included a standard mousetrap. The trap’s spring mechanism provided propulsion for the cars when students’ attached string to the trap’s lever arm, wound it around the car axle, and released the tension, enabling the wheels to rotate and move the car forward. Supplied materials included CDs, a mousetrap, a metal rod, a wooden dowel, plywood, and string. The nature of the project required students to research and test solutions to problems they inevitably encounter when constructing their racers. Students were also tested on the subject matter and Nathai believes the project provided them with a better understanding of the concepts.  Said Nathai, “I predict that the excitement surrounding this assignment will move like wildfire throughout the school and many other students will want to take this class.”
To view the championship race, follow the link: