Mousetrap Racecars

Sometimes an activity just doesn’t work (for us). We put it on here though so you can maybe fix our mistakes, or, maybe, it is just a better fit for your community!

Scott picked this activity because he thought making things that go would appeal to some of the tinkerers in our community. Plus, mousetraps are sweet and DANGEROUS! What teen wouldn’t want to play with a mousetrap? It turns out many teens want to play with the mousetraps, they just don’t want to make cars with them. 😦 We had about 7 teens and most were unhappy with the final product. They didn’t even have fun making them. Hmmmm ….

We spent quite a bit of time trying to find easy directions that worked and for the most part they were all a failure (as you can see below). However, we found a really helpful video series. Watch that series. It is so easy and it is better than anything I could teach you. Read after the video for what we learned.

What we learned:

  • Most of the kids didn’t have much fun because they really didn’t get to personalize their car. It was very much, “Take this apart! Glue this here! No, this is how the discs go!”
  • This would be way more fun as an all day activity (or a few hour activity) where the teens get to explore trying out their own methods. As an example, we have two homeschool teens who were up here the entire day while we experimented and they had a great time offering “constructive criticism” and showing off our final working model.
  • We have been exploring the Hanging Out, Messing Around, Geeking Out essentials as a “structure” for our summer programming and letting the teens explore this (with little pressure of success or failure) would have made a better activity.
  • If you are doing this with the above instructions, get tons of pens. Warn them that the pens will make a mess. Be willing to get dirty … so they don’t have to.
  • We used dowel rods, instead of hangers, and the hangers would probably be strudier.
  • Don’t use Popsicle sticks. I don’t even think paint stirrers would be sturdy enough. The string/mousetrap creates a ton of pressure on the frame.
  • Give your teens stuff to make their cars pretty. Glitter! Markers! Beads! Whatever!
  • Allow about 2 hours, preferably more. Then you won’t be rushing them.



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