The Ultimate Mousetrap-powered Car Quiz

The Ultimate Mousetrap-powered Car Quiz
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About This Quiz

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.

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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.
A compact disc
A wheel from a remote-control toy car

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When this is pulled on a mousetrap-powered car, it causes the wheels to turn.
A shift lever
A piece of wood that forms the body
A length of string
In the most common mousetrap vehicle design, it's the pulling of a length of string, wrapped around a drive axle, that causes the wheels to spin.

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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.
flexible -- like construction paper

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True or false: A mousetrap-powered vehicle can have four, three, or even just two wheels?
True
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.
False

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Competitions with mousetrap-powered cars often revolve around which car can go ______.
the highest
the loudest
the farthest
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."

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Optimizing a mousetrap-powered car relies heavily on an understanding of ______.
geography
psychology
physics
Mousetrap-powered cars bring to life many lessons about potential energy, acceleration, friction and mass -- all topics within the realm of physics.

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True or false: The best lubricant for a mousetrap-powered car wheel is peanut butter.
True
False
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."

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The wheels on a mousetrap-powered car rotate on the ______.
axles
The axles are the shafts running through or beneath the car and are connected to the wheels. When the axles spin, so do the wheels.
ball bearings
retaining bar

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Pen barrels are an inexpensive way to mount your mousetrap-powered car's ______.
wheel axles
Pen barrels provide a low-friction surround to help the car's wheel axles to spin more freely.
ram-air thrusters
mousetrap spring damper

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A hot glue gun comes in handy when building a mousetrap-powered car because it lets you easily ______.
attach the trap to the car body
A hot glue gun is an easy way to affix lots of parts to one another, including the mousetrap to the car body.
attach the wind-up mouse to the car body
glue miniature "spinner" rims to the wheels

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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.
Extension for the trap arm to pull the string

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What mousetrap brand is most commonly cited as the standard "engine" for a mousetrap-powered car?
D-Con
Tomcat
Victor
The Victor brand, with its open, conventional design, proven power and wide availability has made it a favorite of mousetrap-powered car builders everywhere.

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True or false: A single mousetrap is capable of propelling a miniature car more than 300 feet (91.4 meters).
True
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!
False

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True or false: It's not recommended that those younger than age 18 build mousetrap-powered cars because of the cars' complexity and risk.
True
False
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.

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True or false: It's possible to use multiple mousetraps to propel one mousetrap-powered car.
True
Some mousetrap-powered car builders have equipped their vehicles with "all-wheel-drive" by connecting mousetraps to both the front and rear wheels.
False

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The heart of a mousetrap-powered car that puts the entire vehicle in motion is the ______.
spring
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.
cheese
car body

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Which of the following is NOT a reason to use CDs as wheels on a mousetrap-powered car?
Their light weight
Their shiny surface
The shiny surface of a CD might look pretty cool as a wheel, but it has practically no relationship to the performance of a mousetrap-powered car.
The ease with which you can obtain them

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Perhaps the most important consideration when putting together a mousetrap-powered car is ______.
keeping the weight down by using lightweight materials
Keeping the weight down by using light but sturdy materials is perhaps the most important thing to remember if you want a mousetrap-powered car that goes either far or fast.
keeping the trap well oiled
affixing warning stickers near and around the dangerous trap area

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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.

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You Got:
/20
Photodisc/Getty Images

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