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MESA Day 2012 Mousetrap Car - Distance

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1 MESA Day 2012 Mousetrap Car - Distance
6th-8th Grade

2 Objective & Materials Students will build a vehicle solely powered by a standard mousetrap to travel the longest distance on a specified track Materials: 1 standard mousetrap All other materials are legal NO KITS!

3 First Things First: READ RULES AT LEAST TWICE!!
Mousetrap is ONLY source of energy Don’t tamper with mousetrap: No paint No decoration Alteration allowed ONLY for attaching mousetrap to chassis Spring may not be altered

4 Let’s review physics! Energy: It’s what moves the car.
Potential: energy stored in a system Elastic & Gravitational Kinetic: energy of motion Potential  Kinetic Inertia: The resistance an object has to changing its state of motion. Rotational Inertia: The resistance an object has to changing its state of rotation. Friction: A force that opposes the direction of motion. Static: caused from two surfaces pressing together. Fluid: caused from liquids or gases. In air, this is known as drag. Torque: The force required to rotate an object. Power: The rate at which energy is released or transformed in a system.

5 The Engine: Spring + Lever Arm
Energy from spring is transferred to car via the lever arm Lever arm provides torque required to turn axles Length of lever arm affects power output Shorter arm = faster output Longer arm = slower output

6 Wheels & Axles # of wheels : 3 or 4 Wheel radius Wheel grip (traction)
The greater the radius, the greater the torque required to rotate the axle Wheel grip (traction) Power output must match wheel grip to avoid spinning Avoid wasting energy Ratio of wheel-to-axle Larger ratio good for distance Friction Reduce friction between wheels and surface Also between axle and chassis Alignment

7 Wheels & Axles

8 The Chassis The body of the car
Balsawood, plastic, other lightweight materials Mass The heavier the car, the greater the friction force with the surface More force required to actually move the car Long chassis vs. Short chassis Narrow vs Wide Aerodynamic (reduce drag)

9 Fast vs Slow Fast: Slow:
Build a car that will accelerate quickly and “coast” as far as possible shorter lever arm smaller wheel radius quick power output Slow: Build a car that will accelerate slowly over the entire distance that it travels. Less “coasting”. longer lever arm larger wheel radius slow power output

10 Remind Students: Research, research, research!
Experimentation is the key Set a working timeline READ THE RULES….twice….again!! HAVE FUN!!!: It’s not the end of the world.

11 Let’s Build… Marvin Maldonado Associate Director, UCI MESA

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