Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Lessons Of Pinewood Derby

Pinewood Derby has been alive and well for over 50 years as a premium Boy Scouting event. Although the races are predominately for preteen Scouts, it is my experience that this event can generate just as much enthusiasm, competition, and fun for every age group including adults. Our troop just had our annual "April Fools Day 500" race and most of our kids are 11-16 years old and of course, we always have an adults racing category.

So just what are the lessons that can be learned by participating in a pinewood derby race? That is almost an overwhelming question since there are so many answers on so many different levels. The greatest benefit from participating in a pinewood derby race is the opportunity for quality time between parent and son. It's a time when the video games and the TV can be turned off and stronger  relationships can be built with this simple hands-on project.

As a woodshop teacher it is one of my greatest joys to share my experience building cars with the kids. Some will listen and absorb everything that I have to say while others will take off on their own. Some will polish their axles and  align their wheels for the fastest possible speed while others will concentrate on just a sharp looking car. Either way it's very satisfying watching their ideas on paper transform before our eyes into a potential winner.

Secondly, building a pinewood derby car is a hands-on activity where a kid can learn to use a lot of tools such as saws, drills, chisels, carving tools, etc. There is also the potential for lessons in craftsmanship, physics, strategy, and execution.

Lastly pinewood derby is a great lesson in social dynamics. Kids learn a lot about sportsmanship and giving their very best effort when building a car then racing it against many others.

Pinewood derby is one of the most anticipated Scouting events each year where thousands of adults and kids have way too much fun. More than the fun I'm always looking for new lessons to teach that will help kids become the successful adults that they are capable of becoming. The 2010 race is now history but I've already begun planning my car for next years race. No matter how many decades that I've been racing I always find new things to learn about these simple pine cars that have the potential for so many life lessons.

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