Mousetrap-powered cars are clever and often unique expressions of creativity, scientific know-how and just plain-old fun. While they might not solve the world's vehicle emissions issues, they're a great way for young and old minds alike to engage in creative problem solving.
The power in mousetrap-powered cars comes from ______.
a trapped mouse that rotates a drive-wheel when it runs
a mouse pulling the car with a tiny harness strapped to its back
the spring action of a mousetrap
The energy of a mousetrap's powerful spring is gradually used -- unlike the instant unleashing when capturing mice -- to propel a miniature car forward.
Which of the following is NOT commonly used as a wheel on a mousetrap-powered car?
An Oreo cookie
While there have been novel round items used as the wheels on mousetrap-powered cars, Oreo cookies or any other brand are not advised -- said wheels are likely to go missing sooner or later, as a result of either human or rodent plundering.
The body of a mousetrap-powered car should be made of something that is ______.
strong -- like thick, plate steel
light yet stiff -- like balsa wood or poster board
Since the idea with mousetrap-powered cars is usually to see how fast or how far they can go, weight is a major consideration. At the same time, the car needs to be sturdy enough to withstand the acceleration forces caused by the released energy of the mousetrap. Therefore, balsa wood and poster board are ideal building materials.
True or false: A mousetrap-powered vehicle can have four, three, or even just two wheels?
Four and three wheels might be easy enough to envision. But two? Yep, that's right: A mousetrap can be suspended from the axle between two large wheels and made to work very similar to the more conventional car designs.
Competitions with mousetrap-powered cars often revolve around which car can go ______.
Mousetrap-powered cars don't make much noise and don't get very high off the ground without a ramp. So the most competitive area in which to put them to the test is usually distance -- therefore, the answer is "farthest."
True or false: The best lubricant for a mousetrap-powered car wheel is peanut butter.
Peanut butter may be a good attractant for mice, but on your mousetrap-powered car, it would probably only make a mess. To get a little easier rotation at the axles, you might try a small dab of graphite powder. Alas, the answer to the question is "false."
Which of the following would likely disqualify a contestant from a mousetrap-powered car competition?
Unevenly sized wheels
Auxiliary balloon thrusters
Additional power -- like that provided by the thrust of a rapidly deflating balloon -- violates the main premise of mousetrap car competitions, which is to see how much useful work competitors can extract from one novel source: the mousetrap.
True or false: A single mousetrap is capable of propelling a miniature car more than 300 feet (91.4 meters).
When built with lightweight, low-resistance wheels and a low-profile body and run on a smooth and level surface, some mousetrap-powered cars have achieved distances exceeding 300 feet (91.4 meters) -- with a single trip of the trap!
True or false: It's not recommended that those younger than age 18 build mousetrap-powered cars because of the cars' complexity and risk.
While it's certainly possible to suffer a purple pointer finger or two when handling the business end of a mousetrap, there's really no need to (if you're careful). And if you enjoy the challenge of building things and learning how they work, a mousetrap-powered car can be a fun and rewarding project -- whether you're young or old.
The heart of a mousetrap-powered car that puts the entire vehicle in motion is the ______.
The powerful spring is what stores the energy of a mousetrap-powered car. By ingeniously rigging it to the wheels with string, you can put the spring's energy to work by directing it to move the car forward.
It's best to use skinny wheels on a mousetrap-powered car to ______.
be able to sneak up silently on rodent pests before trapping them
put those dusty old "Greatest Hits of the 80s" CDs to good use
reduce rolling resistance
Even given our great advocacy of "reduce, reuse, recycle," the answer has little to do with giving those forgotten old tunes a new spin. The answer is "reduce rolling resistance," as the thin edge of a CD or DVD offers great efficiency for a small craft -- like a mousetrap-powered car.