The Art of Racing Virtually

What has four wheels, a wooden block and a couple of nails? Usually accompanied by  an ecstatic pack of youths with wide eyes all directed towards the same object? The answer, if you haven’t figured it out, is the Kub Kar.

The Kub Kar was first created in 1953 by Don Murphy in California. Known as a Pinewood Derby racer in the United States, the activity today is well-known across North American Scouting as a fun event with a rich tradition. Many parents of Scouts will remember racing Kub Kars themselves.

Rallies are often hosted at the community and Council levels. Kub Kars are crafted to either win a design contest or to be the fastest. But with the current pandemic, how do we recreate the fun of competition?

The Ken-Kee Scout Group has the answer. The Group recently designed and implemented an alternative to the Kub Kar racing that still reflects Don Murphy’s original principles of “craftsmanship and good sportsmanship”.

This event was a STEM challenge for Beavers, Cubs and Scouts to create a self-propelled vehicle out of recycled household materials. These could include anything from Lego to old Kub Kar vehicles to popsicle sticks and straws. By using household materials, everyone was assured an equal opportunity to participate in the adventure.

Kub Kars

For the actual race, Scouts were challenged to create a start line and a finish line, and then measure the distance the vehicle travelled with any measuring device they had at home. Scouts were also asked to make a video of the final result. This adventure promoted creative responses that aligned with Canadian Path STEM programming.

Dustin, a Scouter supporting the adventure, suggests that Scouts and Scouters should “just have fun with it.” He believes that creating STEM vehicles could be incorporated into the future of Kub Kars by making that a separate component of the official Kub Kar rallies. Specifically, the “project could be used as a good lead into the typical Kub Kar races to teach youth the engineering side of race cars and what makes them run well.”

One lesson that Dustin noted was that the alignment of wheels is a major component of successful race vehicles.

Despite not being able to run a typical Kub Kar event this year, Scouters across the country can still create a similar adventure for their Scouts. Following the Plan-Do-Review cycle, lessons learned in creating alternative vehicles or races can be used to make more successful vehicles the next year.

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