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MEDIA ADVISORY: Can a Mousetrap-and-Rubber-Band Device Protect a Plummeting Egg?

Johns Hopkins Engineering Students Will See Whose Invention Is All it’s Cracked Up To Be

December 3, 2013
Media Contact: Phil Sneiderman
Office: 443-997-9907; Cell: 410-299-7462

WHEN: 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013.

WHERE: On stage in the Shriver Hall Auditorium on The Johns Hopkins University’s Homewood campus, 3400 N. Charles St., Baltimore, Md. (Media camera crews will be allowed on stage.) Shriver Hall is Building 3 on the campus map that can be downloaded from this site: http://www.parking.jhu.edu/images/JHU_Homewood_Parking_Map_070828_1.pdf
Parking is available in the nearby South Garage.

WHO: Fifty-nine Johns Hopkins freshmen from an introductory mechanical engineering course will compete. Twenty student teams of two or three students have built devices that must be able to transport an uncooked chicken egg from a platform six feet off the ground to a target below—without breaking the egg.

WHAT: For a class project, each team designed a device powered only by the energy in no more than two mousetraps and six rubber bands. Each carrier can possess no motors or batteries. Certain materials from the class lab and elsewhere could be added, but the total cost per vehicle could not exceed $15. Under its own power, each carrier must move forward on a level, four-foot-long elevated platform. As it plunges off the end of the platform and lands on the target mat, no piece of the carrier can break or come apart.

THE CONTEST: The contest platforms will be mounted atop two six-foot-tall ladders, with target mats below. In elimination matches, two student devices will compete. The winner will be determined by where the egg lands on the scoring target, with points deducted if the egg breaks. When the elimination rounds end, a prize will be awarded to the winning team.

WHY: While working on their projects, students have been learning about design approaches, potential and kinetic energy, friction, prototyping methods and other topics relevant to mechanical engineering. In addition, the project requires teamwork and careful planning, which both will be important in an engineering workplace.

CONTEST JUDGE AND FACULTY SUPERVISOR FOR THE EVENT: Steven Marra, a senior lecturer in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, teaches the course and will serve as judge. “We assigned this project partly because a lot of incoming engineering students have not had much experience in actually designing and building something,” Marra said. “A lot of their beliefs about how something works on paper do not necessarily work in a real-world project.” Prior to the competition, Marra can be interviewed by calling his office, 410-516-0034.

To obtain detailed rules and guidelines regarding the student competition, contact Phil Sneiderman: prs@jhu.edu or 443-299-7462.

A video about a previous Johns Hopkins mousetrap and rubber band design competition involving student-built ground vehicles can viewed here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y3DhgSXha-M


Johns Hopkins University news releases can be found online at http://releases.jhu.edu/. Information on automatic email delivery of science and medical news releases is available at the same address.



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