Theodore Harder
5 years ago
Last Updated
1 month ago
Racing (competition) is fundamental to human nature and our way of life. Making the right decisions based on evidence is fundamental to the engineering design process. This project explores competition and decision making through the Mousetrap car. The project is designed to last two weeks.

The culmination of this project is a Race Day where students race their chosen designs, present their data justifying their choices and market their cars to “sponsors” based on their performance and aesthetics.

This project trains students to think critically using the Engineering Design Process. Students will practice brainstorming and evaluating ideas, applying STEM principles and practices, building and testing prototypes across Engineering Physics, Math, Social Studies and English-Language Arts. Students will make informed and critical decisions using decision matrices to evaluate their mousetrap car designs and marketing. In each discipline:
• Engineering Physics: Students will build and test prototypes in order to understand the physics of the mousetrap car.
• Math: Students will graph, model and interpolate data from their mousetrap cars in order to improve their mousetrap car designs.
• Social Studies: Students will differentiate their product through marketing in order to succeed in monopolistic competition.
• English-Language Arts: Students will evaluate essays using decision matrices in order to understand the AP Scoring Rubric.

Students in the Engineering Technology Career Pathway are prepared to pursue careers as Technicians or Engineers in the Electrical, Mechanical, Telecommunications and Industrial disciplines.

In addition to the CTE/STEM focus of the project, educators will find academic lessons in Calculus, Economics and English Literature that supplement the primary core area of study.

This project is brought to you by Ted Harder (CTE), Janet Lewis (Math), Gene Almeida (Social Studies) and Debbie McVay (ELA) with support from the CTE Online curriculum leadership team and detailed coordination provided by the Course Team Lead Mina Greas.


Industries / Pathways
  • Engineering & Architecture Engineering & Architecture
    • Engineering Design
    • Engineering Technology
K-12 Subjects
  • English-Language Arts
  • Mathematics
    • Trigonometry/Calculus
  • Science
    • Physics
  • History/Social Science
    • Government & Economics
  • Technology Education
Grade Levels
  • 10
  • 11
  • 12

Engineering a Better Mousetrap Car

Using the Mousetrap Car to Understand Calculus: Derivatives (Math)

Using the Mousetrap Car to Understand Calculus: Area Under the Curve (Math)

Lever Arm: Designing for Speed and Distance (Math)

Get It Into Gear (Math)

If You Make Something Useful, New, and Creative Patent It! (Social Studies)

How Can Competition Help Me Build a Better Mouse Trap Car? (Social Studies)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Toyota Motor Company Sponsors High School Mouse Trap Car(Social Studies)

How To Build a Better Car (Social Studies)

The Eros Dilemma (ELA)

Eros, Eros, Who Are You? (ELA)

Eros Essay Contest Review (ELA)

Wolsey's Downfall - Just an Unlucky Man? A Metaphorical Analysis (ELA)

Modeling the Physics of the Mousetrap Car

Testing the Physics Model of the Mousetrap Car

Pushing the Limits Using a Decision Matrix

Race Day