Minds are A’Racin’


It was another successful year for the mousetrap cars in the physics classroom, an installment notorious across the halls of Arlington High School, specifically in the lower D-Wing. Despite Physics being strictly for juniors and seniors, many freshman and sophomores recognize it through sibling lore or mere infamy.

“My sister’s in that class. She wanted me to help her after school. It looks cool,” said Isaac Donnelson (’19), smiling in recognition. His sister was one of over ninety students to partner up and set forth their cars on test day, with the ultimate goal of a fifteen meter run. The cars run on “applied forces, frictional forces, normal and the weight, and how they affect the motion of the vehicle,” instructor extraordinaire, Nathan Davis described. To put it simply, in the words of Robee Neeleman (’17), “When the mousetrap moves like this” – he demonstrates a snapping motion – “then it forces the car forward. We’re learning about forces.”

The students get the chance to decorate their car to perfection – as long as it doesn’t impede the duration of the race. Victoria Alejandra was eager to share about her partner’s and her own car. “Ours is so cute. We painted it purple. And we have our picture on it. I don’t know if it’s gonna go . . . We finished it in over three hours t like 10:30,” she explained enthusiastic. Fortunately, for her, they won the entire competition with a staggering run of 34 meters.

Overall, for some, the activity serves as a thrilling mental competition, calling to be conquered; whereas, for others, it can be the complete opposite.

“Most of (the students) enjoy it, but there are some that get frustrated. With the challenge of building things, there’s the half that get frustrated ’cause it’s not just the simple math,” Mr. Davis confirmed, drawing on his decades of teaching knowledge as concrete evidence. Whatever the case may be, the activity serves as a relief from Powerpoints and algebra, provoking the Physics classes to utilize the entirety of their mental capacities.