Building a better mousetrap…car

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 5, 2005

If there were any mice at Selma High School, they likely ran scared at the sight of the hot-rod mousetraps that rolled across the gym floor on Thursday.

But this time, the mice were in luck. These traps were designed for speed, not catching little critters.

Teams of students in ninth- through 12th-grade spent the past few weeks transforming average mousetraps into three-wheeled vehicles for the SECME mousetrap car competition.

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Jeff Murfree, program manager for the SECME national office, said the purpose of the competition was to teach students to utilize engineering principals.

“Students had to work as team, create technical drawings and be interviewed about their design to show they worked together,” Murfree said. “It is truly a design competition.”

Team members Obosi Roland, Kyle Chestnut, Louis Armstrong and Joel McGuire, all ninth-graders, said the car they submitted to the competition was actually their third creation.

“The first one got left outside and the dog got to it,” Roland said. “The second one had a motor and they told us we couldn’t use any technology.”

The students said they had a fun working together on the mousetrap car and would like to do it again.

“We spent weekends and most of our free time working on it,” Chestnut said.

Roland added that the hardest part of the project was coming up with a design that worked.

Along with the mousetrap cars, students also participated in an essay and poster competition.

“The poster and essay contest was a way for us to bring those students who have stronger writing and drawing skills into the loop,” Murfree said.

In a break between the various competitions, students took part in an “egg-drop,” where they had to create a container for a egg that would prevent it from breaking in a one-story fall.

SECME presented first-, second-, or third-place trophies for the winners of each competition.

Murfree said the winner of the mousetrap car competition would be sent to the national SECME competition at North Carolina A&T State University in July.

“This is our first time hosting this competition in Selma,” Murfree said. “We hope to make this an annual event that will grow until this gym is filled.”

The winners of the SECME competitions were:

Selma High Essay Contest

First-place-Jennifer Coleman

Second-place-Tammy Rowe

Third-place-Ashley Ervin

Middle School Essay Winners

First-place-Martin Black

Second-place-William Childress

Third-place-Nina Robinson

Poster Contest Winners

First-place-Tera Reese

Second-place-Soneaqua Tolbert

Third-place-Nicholas Bryant

Mousetrap Car Winners

First-place-07 Engineering Trio

Second-place-SJS Selma High School

Third-place-Young Geniuses at Work