Cub Scouts from throughout the region were busy creating their Pinewood Derby cars during the annual Derby Night at the Champlain Valley Transportation Museum and Kids Station Jan. 11.
It starts out as a piece of wood, four nails, four wheels and a piece of sandpaper.
Then it is in the hands of local Cub Scouts what to make of that piece of wood and equipment as they prepare for the annual Pinewood Derby races, held in packs throughout the region and country.
In Plattsburgh, the Champlain Valley Transportation Museum and Kids Station holds an annual Pinewood Derby night, which not only helps scouts begin to create their vehicles, but also introduces them to the science of Pinewood.
“I think that it is great that we can take these scouts and teach them some basic things about science,” Museum Executive Director Anthony Vaccaro said. “There is a tremendous amount of engineering and science in something that is so simple. We can talk about friction, aerodynamics, weight, and the alignment of the car.”
This year, Cub Scouts made their way to the museum Jan. 11, getting a chance to learn about how to properly shape their cars, where the weight should go, how their wheels should be placed and more.
“You could spend literally hundreds of hours working to build this little car to make it go faster,” Vaccaro said. “There are some people who take this to extremes, but the basics of physics are here. We as a culture need to have students going in the direction of science, engineering and technology. If we can get scouts and other students at an early age thinking about math and engineering then we can get them excited and in a position to help this country grow as they grow.”
Vaccaro, who helped his own son prepare Pinewood Derby cars as a member of the Cub Scouts, said that along with helping kids learn about science, they also get a chance to work alongside their parents.
“We want to create memories and bonding between parent and child,” he said. “This is something that these kids will remember how well their parents are working with them and helping to create these cars.”
While some packs will hold their own Pinewood derbies, which give the scouts that chance to race their wooden cars down tracks, he museum will be sponsoring a regional Pinewood Derby Race May 4.
“The museum is here to help the community and we want to get involved with education, teaching and science,” Vaccaro said. “We feel that this is a great event and we put a lot of time into it.”