Mousetrap Powered Car
Engineering project for grades 5 and above.


Making a mousetrap car is a mechanical engineering challenge often used as a competition for students from 5th grade up to the second year college.

A mousetrap powered car is a vehicle that uses a mouse trap for a motor and a string to transmit force. In this method one end of a string is attached or tied to the arm on the mousetrap and the other end of the string is wound around an axle.

By winding the string around the axle the mouse trap's spring is stretched and now you have your stored energy. As the mousetrap car is released the mouse trap pulls the string off of the axle causing the wheels to turn and off the vehicle goes.


Some students may prefer to cut all the woods themselves and design their own car; however, most students and teachers prefer to get all the parts in a kit and make changes as they need.

With this project students can explore:

  • A simple propulsion method
  • Basic gluing/ craft techniques and design concepts
  • Concept of stored energy

Items Needed:

Mousetrap Car Kits usually come with parts, cut to size and ready to use. The picture in the right shows the materials you usually find in a mousetrap car kit from MiniScience. Kit includes at least 16 wooden parts cut to size in addition to the mousetrap, string, rubber bands and 8 brass eyelets.

Materials Checklist:

Before using the kit please verify the content with the parts in this picture.

In addition to the kit parts you will need:

  • White glue or wood glue
  • Grip Pins
  • Sand Paper (Medium Grit)
  • Tape
  • Latex Paint

 Teacher Preparation:

During construction of the mousetrap vehicle, students can experiment and comprehend methods of power transfer, using glue, sanding, painting . It is up to the teacher to make sure this background information is provided to students in some manner.


Before invention of gas engines, cars were pulled by horses or other animals. Now gas burning engines are the most popular drive in cars. Inside the engine, the chemical energy stored in fuels are released in the form of hot gases and convert to mechanical force in cylinders.

During the history many other attempts have been made to use other forms of energy to drive a car. In this experiment we try to use the energy stored in a spring (Mousetrap String) to drive a model car.

If you don't have this kit, you can order it now! It is available both as a single pack and class pack.

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Mousetrap Car