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High School Students to Test Mettle in ‘Mousetrap Racer Contest’

High school students from around Pennsylvania will find another use for that most primitive of household appliances − the mousetrap −when the annual “Mousetrap Racer Contest” takes place Friday, Oct. 13, at Penn College.

For the contest, which will be held at the College’s Field House, more than 190 students from 13 high schools are constructing small race cars that use mousetrap springs as their sole power source. The cars can be purchased in kits, which include all of the parts and assembly instructions.

Contest coordinator Dale E. Jaenke, an assistant professor of automotive technology at Penn College, said there will be six different contests and two classes of Mousetrap Racers.

A car that is built solely with parts in the kit is designated as a “stock racer” and will compete in contests only against other stock racers. Cars that are built using parts other than those in the kit are known as “modified racers,” and virtually anything may be used in their construction. The modified racers will compete only against others in the same class. Regardless of the class, the racers must have as their only power source, a single mousetrap.

There will be separate contests for appearance, maximum distance, load pull, hill climb, fastest car and straightest path. Trophies will be awarded for first through third place in each of the six contests and for both classes of car.

The qualifying heats will run from 9 a.m. to noon, and the top five qualifiers will compete for trophies, beginning at 1 p.m. The competition culminates with the trophy presentations, typically by 2:30 p.m.

“The neat thing about this contest is that it gives schools and students a chance to win a trophy for something other than a sporting event,” Jaenke said, noting contestants must master principles learned in high school science and math classes in order to succeed.

Schools that have confirmed participating in this year’s event thus far are: Northeast Bradford High School, Hamburg Area High School, State College Area High School, State College Area High School-North, Schuylkill Valley High School (Leesport), Galeton Area High School, Millville Area Junior-Senior High School, Williamsport Area High School, Greater Johnstown Career and Technical Center, Greenwood High School (Millerstown) and Montoursville Area High School.

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