When I was just 15 years old, I entered a contest to do something I had never done and it ended up giving me an awesome life lesson.
Here’s the story:
I was a part of a student engineering club that had different events to explore engineering as a career. We had speakers come in, we went on field trips, and we had projects and challenges to keep us prepared for applying to engineering colleges.
During my junior year, we had a contest where all the student groups participated. The contest was to develop and launch a car that was powered by the spring of a mousetrap. We had several entrants but my design won the contest. I competed at the regional level and won a scholarship for college.
Use what you have
The car could be made from anything just as long as the spring made the car move. I went home and tore up the house to find things to use. I ended up using 2 records for the back wheels, 2 canning jar lids for the front wheels, and clothes pins for the suspension.
Don’t be afraid to try something new
I had never built a car before, except for those wooden box cars we used to build and race as Cub Scouts. What qualified me to do it wasn’t that I did it before. What qualified me to participate was my creativity and enthusiasm to make it happen. Experience sometimes isn’t everything.
Iterate Until You Get the Results You Want
At first, I used a fishing line to tie the axles to the spring to power the car. Then I tried a rubber band but the rules said you couldn’t use them. Then I tried taping a string to the axle and rolling the axle until the bar from the mousetrap was set. That works the best. I would trigger the trap, the bar pulled the string, and then the string detached when the bar from the trap came to a rest.
The car went 70 feet which was a record for the contest.
Those three lessons taught me a lot and I still refer to them today.
What were you obsessed with when you were younger? And what life lessons did it teach you?
Let me know in the replies!