A mousetrap car is a vehicle that uses a mousetrap for motor power. Larger mousetrap cars, however, have rat traps. Science teachers often use experiments with mousetrap cars to help students develop spatial and problem-solving skills.


A mousetrap, or rat trap, lies at the center of a mousetrap car. The car also includes two or four wheels on each side. The mousetrap's spring powers the car once it is released.


James Henry Atkinson, a British scientist, invented the mousetrap in 1897. His invention, known as the "Little Nipper," received a patent in 1897. The mousetrap was the prototype of the mousetrap car.

Larger Significance

Physics teachers use mousetrap cars to help students gain hands-on experience. Due to its helical spring, a mousetrap car obeys Hooke's Law, which is the equation for torsion springs. Mousetrap boats and mousetrap planes are variations of the mousetrap car.

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