Mousetrap cars are usually built for scouts or school projects, but some people enjoy building the tiny cars as a hobby. The cars demonstrate several properties of physics, so they are popular science fair projects. They can also be a great partner or team project, so they help kids and adults work together to achieve a single goal. Best of all, building a mousetrap car is fun.
Materials Needed for a Mousetrap Car
There are several materials needed to build a basic mousetrap car. These items should be available at your local hardware store. You need a wooden mousetrap, two rubber bands, metal rods, eye screws, plywood, a drill, a small handsaw, a scale, a ruler, a vice or someone to hold the project steady, and wood glue.
Remember that you are using a real mousetrap, so you need to work carefully. Kids should have assistance from an adult, at least until you have modified the trap. To modify the trap, remove the bait holder and take out the wire catch. You will be reinstalling the wire catch later, so keep it somewhere safe.
Your first step to turning your mousetrap into a car is to install the axles. Insert your two eye screws at the corners of the back end of the mousetrap. The screws should be about a cm from each of the corners. The mousetrap wood is very thin, so you need to work carefully to avoid splitting the trap. You might even consider buying more than one trap if this is your first car. This allows you to make a mistake and not have to return to the store once you begin working. Repeat the installation of the eye screws on the front of the mousetrap. The screws should be aligned on either side so you can slide the rod through and install the tires evenly.
Make the Wheels for Your Mousetrap Car
The wheels are created from the plywood boards. Measure four circles that are 70 to 75 mm in diameter. Drill holes in the center of the circles large enough to slide the rods through. The rods should fit firmly onto the wooden circles. You can then sand or file the wood circles so they are smooth and roll easily.
Next, you need to saw your metal rods. The rod should be just slightly longer than the width of your mousetrap. Both the front and back rods should be cut to the exact same length. Washers can be installed on the rod inside of the wheels to make a sturdier structure. Before installing the wheels on the rods, wrap the rubber bands around the back wheels. The bands should be firm and create a rubber lining around the wooden wheels.
Reinstall the wire removed earlier from the mousetrap. This creates a fully functioning mousetrap, but now it has wheels and when triggered, will move like a car. Take a piece of string and tie it to the jaw of the trap. Create a loop in the string and wrap it around the rear axle. Your mousetrap car is complete and can now be operated. Move the rear wheels in the reverse direction by rubbing it backward on a hard surface. The string will wind around the rod, opening the mouth of the mousetrap. When you release the wheels, the string will unfurl, causing the jaw to move shut and the car to propel forward.