Soapbox Derby 2017

April 24 - June 6, 2017

The third annual Soapbox Derby program gives kids the opportunity to build the car of their dreams. Kids, ages 8-14, design and build rideable cars out of wood, chickenwire, and recyclables. Over the course of 7 weeks they learn how to safety use power tools through hands-on exercises and demonstrations on frame assembly, wheel attachment, steering mechanics, and wire forming. 


Week 1: Group 1

Monday, April 24, 2017

The first day included a visual introduction with video clips and images of derby cars from past programs. Images showed the first steps of construction as well as the different approaches to making a derby car including wire forming, sketching with wood and applying paper mache.

The group was introduced to the project through video clips and images to inspire a sense that they can make absolutely anything, and to illustrate the first steps of construction.

After the visual introduction the group started visualizing and making concept sketches of their original ideas. Visions started to emerge of a colorful chameleon, penguin, Subaru, arrowhead, spider, serpent-fish, wolf and a car in the shape of a clenched fist.

Every participant took turns sharing their ideas. Here, Wyatt is describing all of the components of his serpent-fish car.

After drawing we jumped into a tool safety demonstration for using the jigsaw, handsaw and clamps. Throughout the build session the kids used these tools to cut their front and rear axels and to cut plywood to shape their seats. They also used drills to attach the various components of their frame. Next week we hope to secure our wheels and take our frames out for a test drive.


Week 1: Group 2

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Tuesday group took off running on their first day of derby car making. Ideas for cars included a narwhal bus, jet, fire truck, and an eyeball.

This year we have two helpers in the Tuesday group. Johno Landsman is a woodworker who makes furniture and loves sharing his skills with kids. Jonas, age 13, is a two-time alumni of the Soapbox Derby program, he took the course in 2015 and 2016, and came back this year to provide support as a shop assistant.

The group worked diligently throughout the two hour build session. Everyone cut their center poles and axels to length using the jigsaw, clamps and handsaws. They worked in pairs to help each other attach the steel threaded rod onto the bottom of the axel and to tighten with bolts with socket wrenches. By the end of class five cars had their wheels on and were almost ready to ride. Next week will be a dive into seat design and steering mechanics.

By the end of class five cars had their wheels on and were almost ready to ride. 


Week 2: Group 1

Monday, May 1, 2017

The goal for the Monday group was to get their cars ready to test drive by the end of the session. Kids got right to work cutting plywood with the jig saw, tightening the nuts and bolts with socket wrenches and vice grips and drilling in all the pieces to the frame. 

After two hours of building the kids were ready for their first test drive down the hill. 


Week 2: Group 2

Tuesday, May 2, 2017


Week 3: Group 1

Monday, May 8, 2017


Week 3: Group 2

Tuesday, May 9, 2017


Week 4: Group 1

Monday, May 15, 2017


Week 4: Group 2

Monday, May 16, 2017

In week 4 the cars begin taking on their own individual character. Lincoln and Jasper were focused throughout the building session framing walls for their narwhal bus out of 2x3's. They even added a double sunroof from some leftover polycarbonate roof panels. 


Week 5: Group 1

Monday, May 22, 2017


Week 5: Group 2

Tuesday, May 23, 2017


Week 6: Group 1

Monday, May 29, 2017


Week 6: Group 2

Tuesday, May 30, 2017


Week 7: Group 1

Monday, June 5, 2017


Week 7: Group 2

Tuesday, June 6, 2017


Derby 2017

Saturday, June 17, 2017