Last Saturday, Riley and I took our car to compete at Cub Pack 32’s pinewood derby race, placing 2nd among the 33 racers submitting cars.

Last year’s car didn’t make it out of the shaping phase.  We got the car down to the shape and added weight, but I forgot to weigh it with the wheels.  When I tried to take some wood out of the center with a rotary saw, it went haywire, taking out way too much wood, extremely weakening the car frame, and still coming out overweight.  We had to bow out of the race.  But not this year.

Recently, Riley and I completed the Cub Scouts’ Pack 32 Space Derby. Months ago, I told Riley’s den leader that I was enthusiastic to help with the derby, since it is one of my favorite scouting events. After a handful of emails, I found myself volunteering for a number of things related to the event, in addition to helping Riley with his rocket.

The derby itself is a race of propeller-driven rockets, flying down a length of taught fishing line. The rocket is made of two halves of balsa wood, hollowed out and glued together, then shaved and sanded to a rocket shape. A hanger is attached to the top of the rocket that allows it to slip into a cradle that hangs from the fishing line track. Rubber bands inside the rocket attach to the propeller in front and a small stationary dowel in the back. The propeller is wound, tightening the rubber bands, and when it is attached to the cradle and released, the rocket flies down the track!