WESTBROOK, Minnesota (STPNS) -- WWG — If you happened to be at the high school, a couple weeks ago, during Mr. Merrick’s Physical Science Class, you had to be careful walking in the halls. Merrick’s class was running their mousetrap cars to see how far they could travel.
The class was doing a segment on motion using common mousetraps, levers, wheels and axles to build cars.
Prior to building the cars the class studied various forces of energy, and had to write a paper about it.
Merrick said, “We built a test model in class so they were able to get the concept before starting their own project.”
Earlier the class built gravity momentum cars. “I supplied the force by using a ramp, measuring speed and distance,” he said.
Before building the cars at home the students did a lot of research on line for ideas. The kids were allowed to have help from their parents building the cars.
“I had a pair of twins and and a couple of brothers and sisters in the class. They all came up with unique designs using the same basic apparatus. The biggest variable was the quality,” Merrick said.
“This type of thing reaches a different kind of kid — there is no right answer — so it is a joy for me to see the kids get excited the way they did — the way they don’t with paper and pencil,” he said.
The self propelled cars were graded according to their performance in three areas — distance, speed and force. Some of the cars were built for distance, and others were build for speed, but some students were able to modify their cars to perform better in each category. Despite that there were different winners in each category.
Merrick said, “I graded the kids on overall performance, but I did give them extra credit for ingenuity.”
Merrick was happy to have a lot of the kids come in for a couple hours after class to get help solving problems with their projects. “It was good to see kids interested enough to do that,” said Merrick.
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