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Physics Students Compete In Annual Mousetrap Car Competition

Thursday on campus, Lausanne held the annual Mousetrap car competition.

The event, which has become a favorite among upper schoolers, challenged Physics SL and HL students to build cars that either speed or travel long distances. 

The cars were powered using the stored energy in the spring of a mousetrap for the motor and measured the total displacement for distance cars or the time it takes their race cars to travel five meters. 

"The idea is to attach a string from a mousetrap lever arm to the rear axle and by winding the string around the axle the mouse trap's spring is stretched to store elastic potential energy," Upper School Physics teacher Faunne Brown said. "As the mousetrap car is released the mousetrap pulls the string off of the axle causing the wheels to turn, pushing the vehicle forward. Students are given the freedom to independently research and apply the engineering design process. More importantly, they can connect this project to a real-world scenario, including other forms of transportation, involving the transformation of energy."

Students were asked to reflect on their project by writing a paper describing the evolution of their car's build, predictive equations based upon their specific car's design including the application of numerous physics principles, as well as recommendations as to how they could improve upon their design for the future.

Posted by Shayne Dotson at 10:42 AM