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Penn College to Host Mousetrap Racers

More than 200 high school students from throughout the state are preparing scores of mousetraps to capture honors, not mice, at Pennsylvania College of Technology this week.

Instead of cheese, the students will rely on ingenuity to make effective use of mousetraps during Penn College’s annual Mousetrap Racer Contest beginning at 8 a.m. Friday, Oct. 15, at the new Field House. Sponsored by the College’s automotive majors, the competition features small cars powered exclusively by the release of mousetrap springs.

Dale Jaenke, an assistant professor of automotive technology and coordinator for the event, says students typically are very creative whether they compete in the stock division (which features standardized equipment) or the modified division (which allows them to add various gizmos to the racers). Compact discs and old phonograph records have been among the items used to customize past entries, he said.

Jaenke believes the competition is valuable for students because it encourages them to employ principles taught in high school classrooms.

“There is a lot of physics involved with this,” he said, noting the racers’ design incorporates curriculum from high school science and mathematics classes.

Jaenke says students will compete in six contests: appearance, longest distance (in recent years, some cars have traveled about 100 feet), hill climb, load pull, fastest car and straightest path. Preliminary heats will yield five finalists in each category who will vie for trophies awarded to the top three finishers.

At least 17 high schools are expected to send representatives to the contest. To date, they are: Blue Ridge (New Milford), Cardinal Brennan (Ashland), Elkland Area, The Greater Johnstown Career and Technology Center, Greenwood (Millerstown), Hamburg Area, Hanover Area (Wilkes-Barre), Line Mountain (Herndon), Littlestown, Middletown Area, Millville, Montgomery Area, Northeast Bradford (Rome), Schuylkill Valley (Leesport), Solanco (Quarryville), State College Area and Williamsport Area.

The schedule for the event, to be held during the College’s Career Day, is:

  • 8 to 9 a.m. Inspection and appearance contest
  • 9 a.m. to noon Qualifying heats (two attempts in each category)
  • Noon to 1 p.m. Lunch
  • 1 to 2 p.m. Finals; top five in each category compete for trophies
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