George Lucas Educational Foundation

Pinewood Derby

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The Pinewood Derby has to be the classic father / son project. Trouble is in many cases the father ends up doing most of the work. I still have to believe any father son project that is still very popular after 50 years has to be a good thing. My local hobby shop was selling kits and parts so I decided to build a car and write an article about what I had learned. Bill Kuhl

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Caryn Pernu's picture
Caryn Pernu
Director of Program Strategies, National Youth Leadership Council

I'm a longtime fan of the Pinewood Derby concept but have not participated in recent years as my subsequent comments here will attest. I'm surprised that so much of the construction is based on kits and very specific tools. I'd naively and somewhat romantically assumed it was something that a parent and child constructed together with spare parts and tools from the family shop, or so it was in my hazy childhood memories of the 70s.

In any case, there seems to be a lot of possibility for curricular connections, even with the kits.

Bill Kuhl's picture

I will have to admit I purchased almost every tool or gadget they had available at the hobby shop. Some of the personal comments I have received on this article, fathers admitted to using micro-lathes fine tune the wheels and axles.

Maybe, build it on the spot events are a possible solution, I believe some Science Olympiad events are like that.

Denise Lepard's picture
Denise Lepard
Education Specialist, Transition; San Diego, CA

My son attends High Tech High (heavy on the PBL)... His freshman physics/math class had a pinewood derby that was totally tied to physics and math. They completely designed their cars from paper to race-car. They built the track too. I had done it with him years ago as a cub scout, but he was very excited about this project. He had to calculate angles, velocity etc. A great project for PBL!

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