Mike Jackson

Streaming Media

Publication Date


Document Type

Lesson Plan

Educational Level


Educational Sub-Level

High School


Kinetic energy, Newton's second law of motion, net force


Students will build a mouse trap powered car that converts elastic potential energy contained in the trap’s spring to linear kinetic energy of the car. The release of this energy results in a net force which leads to linear acceleration. This acceleration can be measured with Vernier Logger Pro®, and using Newton’s Second Law of Motion, the net force can be calculated. Finally, using the concept of work, the final kinetic energy of the car can be calculated. Once students become familiar with the calculation of work and energy, the teacher will challenge the students to modify their cars to perform within a specific energy range. This may involve modifying mass, wheel design, lever action, etc. The concept of work and energy is demonstrated in this lesson through the use of a student built car and Vernier Logger Pro®. The lesson utilizes concept application, data collection, and graphical modeling techniques to give the students an understanding of energy transfer by bridging concepts of kinematics and dynamics.