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Mousetrap Racers Ready to Roll Again at Penn College

High-school students statewide will “spring” into action again Friday, Oct. 19, for the annual “Mousetrap Racer Contest” at Pennsylvania College of Technology an event in which the sole power source for the miniature race cars is a single, unmodified mousetrap spring.

This year’s event, which will be held at the Penn College Field House, will feature more than 150 students from at least a dozen high schools across Pennsylvania.

High schools that have registered to participate thus far include: Montoursville Area, Northeast Bradford, Greenwood, Middleburg, Hamburg Area, Williamsport Area, Galeton Area, Schuylkill Valley, Line Mountain, Cardinal Brennan, Middletown Area and Greater Johnstown Area.

There will be contests for appearance, longest distance, fastest car, hill climb, load pull and straightest path. Each of the contests will be held in both stock and modified classes. The stock class may only use parts from the Midwest Products mousetrap racer kit; the modified cars may be constructed of any material, but still must be powered solely by the unmodified mousetrap spring.

According to contest coordinator Dale E. Jaenke, an assistant professor of automotive technology at Penn College, students will arrive by 8 a.m. to go through technical inspections to ensure they conform to the rules and to determine whether they will enter stock or modified cars.

The appearance judging will take place immediately following the inspections. From 9 a.m. to noon, students will compete in qualifying races. The top five cars from each class in each race will then compete in the finals, which will begin at 1 p.m. The top three finishers in each class for each contest will receive trophies.

Since this has become an annual event, a number of science and technology departments have incorporated it into their courses, Jaenke said, though some of the schools in this year’s event are competing for the first time, he noted.

“The event combines a fun day of observation and learning from other students’ racers, the excitement of the competition and a chance to develop problem-solving skills as a culmination to classroom projects of design, construction, testing and experimentation with the racer,” Jaenke said. “The contest and trophies that we send the kids home with are a good way to show high-school students and faculty the value that we at Penn College place on academic achievement.”

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