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Using A Mousetrap Powered Vehicle Design Activity To Convey Engineering Concepts

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Enhancing K-12 STEM Education with Engineering

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.1316.1 - 15.1316.12



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Paper Authors


John Fitzpatrick Drexel University

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John Fitzpatrick received his Bachelors of Science in Physics Engineering from Washington and Lee University (Lexington, VA) in 2005. Matriculating to Drexel University for graduate studies, he received his Masters of Science in Mechanical Engineering in 2008, with an emphasis on soft-tissue biomechanics. John expects to complete his doctorate in Mechanical Engineering by the end of 2010, with a dissertation topic focusing on simulating cardiovascular mechanics.

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Adam Fontecchio Drexel University

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Dr. Adam Fontecchio is an Associate Professor and Assistant Department Head in the Drexel University Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, and an Associate Dean of the College of Engineering, Co-Director of the A. J. Drexel Nanotechnology Institute, an affiliated member of the Materials Engineering Department, a member of the Center for Educational Research, and his research focuses on the area of nanophotonics. He is the recipient of a NASA New Investigator Award, the Drexel Graduate Student Association Outstanding Mentor Award, the Drexel University ECE Outstanding Research Achievement Award and the International Liquid Crystal Society Multimedia Prize. In 2003, he received a NASA/ASEE Summer Faculty Fellowship to research NEMS/MEMS adaptive optics in the Microdevices Laboratory at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

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Eli Fromm Drexel University

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Using a Mousetrap-Powered Vehicle Design Activity to Convey Engineering Concepts


As part of a NSF-sponsored project within GK-12, a curricular unit was introduced to students in an urban middle school elective course. The module sought to immerse students in a design project, during which they would be introduced to theories and concepts relevant to the construction of a mousetrap-powered vehicle.

- hour session per week for 10 weeks. After introducing the course goals and demonstrating the

a two- erials. Each week thereafter, lessons on measurement, unit conversion, forces, torque, and energy were introduced and corresponding activities were adapted to the mousetrap vehicle project. Vehicle-specific investigations on friction (forces) and moment of inertia (torque) allowed students to calculate the efficiency of their mousetrap-powered car and determine which modifications were necessary to achieve their goal.

At the completion of the elective, students responded to an open-ended survey that gauged their interest in the project, impression of science and mathematics, and willingness to pursue similar - physical concepts taught in lessons as they experimented with their own mousetrap-powered vehicle models, and might be more willing to approach other scientific concepts if taught by example.


Over the course of the 2008-2009 academic year, an elective course was developed and implemented at Middle Years Alternative (MYA), an urban middle school in Philadelphia, PA, as part of the National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate K-12 Fellowship Program (GK-12). In accordance with the GK-12 outreach goals enriching the content of courses related to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)

phenomena and awareness of the engineering discipline.

Inquiry and design-based a National Science Education Standards (NSES), and have garnered favorable support in the

Fitzpatrick, J., & Fontecchio, A., & Fromm, E. (2010, June), Using A Mousetrap Powered Vehicle Design Activity To Convey Engineering Concepts Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16307

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