Peter has been gone until yesterday and I finally hit the wall last week with being a single mom so it was good timing. Of the multitude of inconvenient things that happened while he was gone the worst was the building of a mouse trap car. Never heard of one? Me neither until Nathaniel was required to build one for science. It is a big thing here at Springville Jr High and quite the competition. Nathaniel gave me absolutely NO indication of how major this thing was going to be and you basically fail the class if you don't build one. It has to go 10 feet to get full credit--10 points per foot. (The record is around 150 ft.)
Why is it that your kids are assigned things the teacher knows the parents are going to end up doing? Isn't that like parent homework?
I won't even start on that one.
Of course all the other kids have their DADS to help with this project. And trust me, this was way beyond building something like a pinewood derby car. You could leave that as a block of wood and it least it would still go. You can't use a kit in the mousetrap car project--it is against the rules. So we are trying to build a vehicle powered by a mousetrap using engineering I was not really grasping.
Make car. Disassemble a mousetrap and remove excess parts. Attach mousetrap to car. Attach lever to mousetrap spring. String tied to lever and wound around axle is powered by the spring in the mousetrap, which spins the axle and turns the wheels.
Here is Nathaniel's design:
For me I cannot move onto step 4 until I've done step 3 and so on because I can't seem to see beyond the step I'm on, which, as Nathaniel can tell you, created some problems.
"Uhhh...Mom, I told you this was going to happen but you weren't listening."
Here was the first go-around. What a disaster.Monday night I was a nervous wreck. I had a ton of stuff going on and this thing was not only sucking up all my time but I was unsure of what the heck we were doing. I finally bought a book of designs online and spent quite a chunk of time pouring over it at midnight only to have stressful dreams about it all night.
We made this on Monday and it was due on Wednesday so we had to completely start over on Tuesday. Here I am using the circular saw in our garage to cut the wood (my contractor neighbor had to come over to show me how to take the safety off.) Sanding, cutting, drilling, gluing.
It was ridiculous.
It was ridiculous.
Tuesday morning I had it out with Nathaniel.
"Why didn't you tell me how major this thing was going to be??!"
"I didn't know it was going to be!"
"It doesn't even seem like you know what you're doing! I'm doing all the work! Can't you talk to your teacher?"
"I do know what I am doing!"
"Then why aren't you doing it?"
"Cause I don't know!"
So I could see this wasn't going anywhere.
In the carpool I asked the other boys how long theirs took to make.
"Mine took me about a week."
"I donno, maybe a couple of days."
So this was #2. Note the balloons stretched over the wheels for traction. I took the plans to the hardware store down the street and had four men all racking their brains on how we were going to create working axles for the wheels. Finally one guy says, "You realize between us you have four college degrees trying to figure this out?"
When we finally finished, after about trip #134 to the hardware store, we set it on the kitchen floor and let it go. It went all the way across. First time.
We high-fived each other so hard my hand hurt for half an hour.
All we wanted was the 10 feet.
For the event his went 25.
When I called Peter to tell him he said, "See? I knew you could do it!"
I said he was a liar. He admitted he was.