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Mousetrap Cars Race in PMSA Class

December 13, 2013 08:40 AM
The hallways of Proviso Math and Science Academy became a race track of sorts in early November, thanks to the mousetrap-powered cars of Mr. Mark Petrynek’s science class.

In a project on auto mechanics and automotive engineering, teams of students designed and built small cars that would be powered by the force of a mousetrap. They were charged to build the cars that would travel about 80 feet down the tiled hallway.

"The power’s supplied by the mousetrap, but the students are surprised that they went as far as they did," Mr. Petrynek said. "One went faster and faster as time progressed. Another went slower. They figured out that the mousetrap gives more torque at the very end."

MS_MousetrapCars2-smBuilding the vehicles from kits, a majority of students powered their cars by tying a string to the front axle. When the spring-loaded bar of the trap was released, it pulled the string, turning the axle and front wheels and powering the vehicle forward.

Students also looked for different methods to move their cars further and faster.

Denise Santellano and Angelica Roman, both PMSA seniors, attached pen caps to the wheels.

"It pulls the string more and the wheels move more easily," Denise said.

Justin Clark, a PMSA senior, said that his team originally aimed for their own design. Eventually, after comparing prices for parts, they bought a kit.

"It’s better to build smart with the kit than in a more conventional way with just parts," he said.

Dr. Bessie Karvelas, principal at PMSA, said that projects such as the building of mousetrap cars help students grow as leaders.

"Through team collaboration, students are able to share ideas and think critically with their peers as they contribute to the creations and innovations of various projects," she said. "Through this process, they develop leadership skills as well."


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