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Upper School Studies Potential Energy With Mousetrap Cars

One of our Physics SL and HL students favorite events, the annual mousetrap car competition, challenges them to build either a long distance or race car. 

The students' cars were powered using the stored energy in the spring of a mousetrap for the motor. 

"The idea is to attach a string to the mousetrap and axle.  By winding the string around the axle the mouse trap's spring is stretched to store elastic potential energy. As the mousetrap car is released the mouse trap pulls the string off of the axle causing the wheels to turn, pushing the vehicle forward," Upper School Physics teacher Faunne Brown said. 

Students then measured the total displacement for distance cars or the time it takes their race cars to travel five meters. 

In addition, students were asked to write 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.