Saturday, February 19, 2011

Super Saturday - Pinewood Derby Fun..

Enjoying the efforts of something as well as the results – this is what the Boy Scouts Pinewood Derby is about. The Pinewood Derby is a racing event for Cub Scouts in America. The boys build their own cars with the help of parents using kits containing a block of wood, plastic wheels and axles. For more information, you can visit the official page at http://pinewoodderby.org/pinewood/about.
This year, we participated in our sons’ first Pinewood Derby. It began with each scout receiving one Derby kit. Our job – convert the block of wood into a car. So we got a design ready for the car and made an appointment at the local woodworking shop (SawdustShop). We did not know what to expect when we went in there. It was cool, I felt like I was back in m first year of engineering college where we had to go to workshop and saw/drill/sand and more. Though I cannot honestly say I enjoyed it at that time, I can say that I loved the experience this time around, more because of the excitement of the kids (the appointment at the sawdust shop was for all the boys from our den so we could all go together). One of the employees explained how to use the power tools there before we started. I was thrilled when I was able to use the power saw and cut out the design of the car in one swipe! (almost as well as one of the dads who seemed to know what he was doing). Dad arrived by then and father-son proceeded to sand the car to a smooth finish. We added the weights and weighed the car at every stage – the car should not weigh more than 5 ounces (and we need to take into account that coats of paint will add on some too).  We followed this by watching a fun movie night to get the scouts and their families excited (even more so) about Derby night – the movie is a great watch for all – Down and Derby
Dad and son could not wait for the next weekend to arrive so they could work on painting and finishing their car. I watched as the first-timer dad transformed from ‘mom will take you to scouting events dad’ to a true derby dad (watching the movie will help you understand this better). At last, the car was completed! I watched as dad and son went to a trial run for the cars the day before the race and came back home a little disappointed – the car came last in every race it ran (no matter against which cars it raced). I told the little boy not to worry and told him, “Maybe it will be different tomorrow”. 
Race day – as we registered our car and got it inspected, the derby experts told us that we have too many weights in the front and told to move it to the back of the car and to add graphite to the axles and wheels to lubricate it (we newbies!). We completed the repairs and added the graphite (smooth!). After the boys were asked questions by spirit judges – how much were they involved in the spirit of the race – the race began. Each car ran six times. The ascending order of the total times for all six races decided the winners. Wonder of wonders, our newbie, redone hastily just before, was first in five of the six races it ran and placed 5th overall out of 38 cars! The surprise and thrill in our little boy's face was a wonderful sight. We are now already planning for next year’s derby.
Photos of the event soon...

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