Monday, April 18, 2016

Making things go: Mousetrap Cars and Balloon Cars

This summer we offered a Family Maker Day afternoon where families could explore the concepts of simple machines by making cars.  It was a great way to explore wheels & axles, levers, inclined planes, and the concept of mechanical advantage.

To prep for the day, I had our working machine shop intern pre-drill holes in the mousetraps. He thought I was crazy, but then came out of the shop to help in the Learning Lab. It was a nice opportunity for our intern to be a leader with a group.

While the kids were really excited about making these cars, I was really happy that I had chosen this activity for families and not for an after-school project.  The mousetraps really snapped. Nobody was hurt, but the potential was certainly there.

For our next Simple Machines Maker Day, we made balloon cars.  These were much easier (and safer) to make and, in the end, more satisfying for the kids because they didn't need much help.  In fact, this project went so well, that I offered it to some summer camp groups. I had everyone bring a water bottle which made the prep much easier (and a little cheaper).

These worked so well that sometimes the parents had a hard time letting the kids try it!

These activities, along with a few other car builds, are pinned on our Pinterest Cars Board.

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