Here at the Physics Van, we're not really experts on the absolute
best designs for mouse trap racers, but here's the basic idea:
You tie the end of a string to one of the axles of the "car." Then
you wind the string up around the axle. (Make sure you wind it the
right way, so that your car doesn't end up going backwards.) The other
end of the string is tied to the moving metal part of the mousetrap.
When the mousetrap pops, it pulls on the string, turning the axle, and
making the wheels turn. If you extend the length of the metal piece
(say by attaching a long metal stick to it), you can pull the string
even further, rotating the axle even more times. Also, bigger wheels
and a thin axle will help your car to move through more distance for
how much the string is pulled.
This information came from Doc Fizzix's Basics of How to Make a MouseTrap Racer
page. For more information on just about anything to do with MouseTrap Racers, check out Doc Fizzix's Webpage
. There's lots of good stuff like plans for prizewinning racers, and even a book you can order all about MouseTrap Racers.
(republished on 07/19/06)