Soapbox Derby

May 2 - June 9, 2016

The second annual Soapbox Derby program at Knoll Farm. 14 kids, ages 7-12, designed and built the cars of their dreams. They learned how to use power tools through hands-on exercises and demonstrations on frame assembly, wheel attachment, steering mechanics, and wire forming. The 6 week program was offered afterschool on Mondays and Thursdays from May 2 - June 9, 2016. On June 16 the finished cars were showcased in a downhill race at Knoll Farm. 


Session 1: Group A

May 2, 2016

On the first week of the Soapbox Derby program the Monday group was introduced to the history of derby races by watching "The Incredible San Francisco Artists' Soapbox Derby," a video about a derby event organized by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 1975. The video served as a catalyst for inspirtation.

After watching the video the kids eagerly started drawing their ideas.

Once their concepts took form, we transitioned into a tool safety training focused on drilling, clamping, and sawing. Afterwards the demonstration of the day provided instructions on how to measure the frame components. The rest of the afternoon was dedicated to sawing and assembling the axels. 


Session 1: Group B

May 5, 2016

For many in the Thursday group, this was their second year making derby cars. They were provided hand drawn instructions for how to assemble the frame components.

After a tool safety demonstration, they began visioning and building.


Session 2: Group A

May 9, 2016

The Monday group had the supported by two youth assistants - Jonas and Aurora. Jonas, age 11, participated in the 2015 soapbox derby program and wanted to share his skills with peers. Aurora, a high school senior, was interested in working with her hands in an alternative education setting. 

Today's demonstration covered how to attach a 1/2" threaded rod onto the front and rear axles using galvanized pipe straps. Once the rods were attached the kids were able to install their wheels.

Amy and Rachel worked with the electric jigsaw to cut out the base of their seat.


Session 2: Group B

May 12, 2016

The Thursday group made substantial progress attaching the threaded rods and wheels onto their frames. Many began working on their seats and steering mechanics.

Everyone had a different design for their seat. Aliza used rope, while Zennor used a jigsaw to cut out his pointed seat. Silas was determined to make a raised seat so that he could see out of his car.


Session 3: Group A

May 16, 2016

On week 3 the Monday group was introduced to a variety of approaches for building the body of their cars. They were given a demonstration on how to construct with 2x3's, and how to form shapes with chicken wire.

They were asked to think about the shapes they intended to create, which would lead them to identify the materials that were best suited for their designs.

During the building session the kids used clamps and saws to materialize their ideas.


Session 3: Group B

May 19, 2016

By Thursday of week 3 every car was on wheels and beginning to take shape.

Silas continued working on the elevated seat for his hamburger shaped car.

Anna and Aliza partnered to build a box frame that would support a wire form for Aliza's hamster car.

Wren and Kaia both worked on their Calvin and Hobbes themed cars - Hobbes the tiger and Spaceman Spiff.


Session 4: Group A

May 23, 2016


Session 4: Group B

May 26, 2016


Session 5: Group A

May 30, 2016 


Session 5: Group B

June 2, 2016


Session 6: Group B

June 4, 2016


Session 6: Group A

June 6, 2016 


The Race

June 16, 2016