craft stick mouse trap

Mouse trap sculpture

Craft Stick Mouse Trap – a simple mousetrap that works virtually the same as a real mousetrap, except it’s made from craft sticks, wooden beads, and a few extra craft parts.

Energy – physical quantity that is a property of objects and systems which is conserved by nature. Energy is often defined as the ability to do work. Several different forms of energy, including kinetic, potential, thermal, gravitational, elastic, electromagnetic, chemical, nuclear, and mass have been defined to explain all known natural phenomena.

What’s the problem?
The fundamental properties of any mouse trap are the same. Build the trap so that when set, the stored energy is transferred to the capture mechanism.

  • Ask – What is an easy to build project that demonstrates the engineering concept of energy transfer?
  • Imagine – What are some household gadgets that demonstrate energy transfer? What is being demonstrated? Can these be made with materials that are easy to find or buy?
  • Plan, Create – A mousetrap is a good example of the engineering ideas. Design and build a prototype. Test drive the model with kids in an after-school program.
  • Improve – Write the instructions. Make a video of the finished product. Publish it to the web. Improve the design when new ideas come along.

That’s engineering

  • Energy transfer – Stored energy is transferred into kinetic energy. When the mousetrap arm is pulled back, (more) energy is stored in the rubberband. To continue storing the energy, and maintain the tension in the mousetrap, a trigger is woven under the hinge and into the arm, thus holding it down. If the trigger is disturbed enough, it may slip off of the arm, causing the energy in the rubberband to be released and slam the mousetrap down.

Engineering ideas

  • energy transfer, kinetic energy, stored energy, tension, hinge, trigger

Do It
Challenges for you to work on…

  • build a mousetrap following the directions
  • design and build your own mousetrap contraption

Learn more…

  • Project-Based Engineering for Kids – lots of great projects, low cost materials, easy to follow instructions with pictures, videos
  • Energy – the ability to do work. Several different forms of energy, including kinetic, potential, thermal, gravitational, elastic, electromagnetic, chemical, nuclear, and mass have been defined to explain all known natural phenomena.