Published : 25/03/2009 07:32:02
Categories : Party Games and Ideas
My eight year old son and several of his football teammates entered into a pinewood derby. This is a competition where you shape a rectangular piece of pine into a car, add wheels, and race down a ramp. Sounds simple, right? How can you go wrong with that? Well, as I learned, there is a lot that can go wrong. This is where our submarine races party came in.
Several fathers of these boys work in manufacturing. They have access to testing equipment. I joked that they were going to test their cars in wind tunnels to get the most aerodynamic design. My son thought that we could make our own wind tunnel with a big enough fan. We thought about this for a while, and figured out that if we could test our designs under water, we would be able to see which design went further.
To make the submarine races party work, we filled a paddling pool with water. We tied a rubber strap to two bricks, and pulled the car back, stretching the strap to the same point each time. This would ensure that each car was launched with the same force. Two other boys brought their dads, so this really did turn into a party. What did we learn? Aerodynamics does not mean much for a pinewood derby car. The setup of the wheels, and the smoothness of the axles has a lot more to do with the friction that the car encounters than does the air (or water). It was a fun experiment, but in the end we learned that we could shape the wood into any configuration and still have a fighting chance at winning. Our last steps are to paint the car to look like Lightning McQueen, get some party supplies like a chequred flag and some Cars headbands for our team plus fuel of course, not for the car though-for the kids!