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There are worse ways to start a Monday than by watching car races. The races in question happened in Mr. Merrick’s shop class, where T. is an eager participant.

Remember Pinewood Derby? Now add CO2 cartridges. Each kid started with a block of wood and a set of rules. After paring away most of the block, leaving enough of it to hold the cartridge and to attach the wheels, the kids sanded, painted, sanded some more, and finally got to race.

In the cool gizmo department, Mr. Merrick has an awesome race set-up. Two cars race at a time, each one attached by eyelets underneath to a wire that forms the track. The starting end of the wires connect to some kind of ignition system (I didn’t go investigate, being more interested in the outcomes than the starts) and the finish line has timer readouts and a sweatshirt-packed backstop for the cars. That last feature has been customized to preserve the cars; one car snapped in half anyway.

The fastest cars crossed the auditorium floor in about a second and a half. The slow-pokes took closer to three seconds. Winners ran light, there being no slope to reward additional momentum.

The class was mostly boys, but four out of the top five finishing times went to the girls. Mr. Merrick says that’s because the girls have the patience to keep paring away at the cars.

T.’s car lost in his heat, but his time was under two seconds. He’ll finish about middle of the pack, I expect, once all the brackets are done. His car, of course, is red, so it goes faster.



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June 2012
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