Telstar Middle School student Gage Berry watches Cyrus Mills’ rocket fly through the air. Submitted photo

BETHEL — Peter Hedden, who has been a science teacher for 11 years at Telstar Middle School, was awarded grants from the Maine Environmental Education Association to get materials to build and experiment with hands-on learning.

Hedden has a lot of plans this year working with students to build ramp cars, mousetrap cars, rockets, parachutes, and much more.

One of the projects Hedden does with his students is build rockets. The students first have to think of what their rocket is going to look like and how it’s going to work. Then the students have to gather their materials. After that, they are off to build their rockets!

Finally, when the students are done building they are ready for launch.

When the launches were held, Cadence Campbell’s rocket flew the highest, going up 113.4 meters. Halea Monelt had the second highest launch, at 106.3 meters. Daniel Billings had the third highest, at 96.2 meters.

Hedden also has students build their own mousetrap cars!


Mousetrap cars are small cars that are only powered by a mousetrap, and building them is considered a STEM activity.

For this lesson, Hedden hands out mousetraps to each student. The students then go to a bucket to choose building materials, including popsicle sticks, wheels, CDs for wheels, string, cardboard, foam and straws.

The one rule is that each student has to design a car that goes at least five meters. The students also get to race each other. Whoever builds the fastest car wins. This year’s winning creative designer? Clark Colby.

The grant is a good thing because it gives the students a chance to do hands-on activities and show the skills of each student. That is why the grant is a good thing for Telstar Middle School students.

Using popsicle sticks, wheels, CDs, string, cardboard, foam and straws, Telstar Middle School students designed mousetrap cars. The winning “Creative Design” was built by Clark Colby. Submitted photo

In November last year, Hedden told the Bethel Citizen that one of the lessons he learned during the pandemic was that some students actually worked better when working individually on projects, specifically the mousetrap car. He says the students felt more successful when working alone.

“Because they’re actually finishing them and doing their own versus working with somebody else and somebody else finished it,” Hedden explains. “Versus, oh! This is my car, and you’re going to make it work. I had the most success with those mouse trap cars that I ever had in my years prior” to the pandemic.

According to Flinn Scientific, a mousetrap car works on the principle of a lever. One end of the lever is connected to a spring. When a force is used to pull the other end of the lever up, the spring tightens, storing energy. When the lever is released, the stored energy in the spring is transferred back to the lever, and the end snaps back, sending the “car” forward.

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