Making a Derby Car for Kids

Seven Steps for Making a Fast Pinewood Derby Car

1. Max out your pinewood derby car’s weight at 5 ounces and make sure the heaviest part is about 1 inch in front of the rear axle. This is the most important step. Science shows if you do this correctly, you will beat a pinewood derby car built exactly the same — except with the weight toward its front — by 4.6 car lengths. It works because the farther back the weight is, the more potential energy you have because your center of mass is higher up on the track. (Don’t put it too far back, or your pinewood derby car will become unstable and pop a wheelie.)


2. Use lightweight wheels. This is illegal in some races, but if it’s not in yours, this is a must-do step that will give you a 2.1-car-length advantage at the finish line versus a car with normal wheels. It works because heavy wheels take away from the kinetic energy (the energy something has due to its motion), which makes the pinewood derby car slower.

3. Use bent polished axles.

Bending your axles with a bending tool will make the wheels ride up against the nailhead, which creates less friction than if the wheel is bouncing around and rubbing against the wooden pinewood derby car body. See video for details.

4. Railride. Railriding means you steer your pinewood derby car into the center guide track just enough that you keep the car from bouncing around. This helps reduce friction and saves energy for speed. See video for details.

5. Create a pinewood derby car that is reasonably aerodynamic, meaning its design cuts down on drag caused by air. No need to get crazy here, but simply having a wedge-shaped pinewood derby car instead of the standard block out of the box will equal a 1.4-car advantage at the finish line.

6. Ride on three wheels by raising one wheel off the track.(Check the rules to make sure this is allowed in your race.) You will move faster if you have to get only three wheels rotating, giving you a 1.1-car advantage over an identical pinewood derby car riding on four wheels.


7. Use lots of graphite. There isn’t a big difference in types of graphite, so buy the cheap stuff and use as much as possible. Be sure to get plenty around each wheel and on the axle.

It works! After my research, my son and I wanted to do one final test to prove that this is a good list. So we built a simple pinewood derby car using this list in 45 minutes, and we beat the fastest pinewood derby car in our local race by two car lengths. Turns out, science works!

roberMeet Mark Rober

Mark Rober worked as a mechanical engineer at NASA for nine years. During this time, he worked on Curiosity, a car-sized robot that left Earth in 2011, landed on Mars in 2012, and has been exploring, conducting experiments and sending back pictures ever since. Now Mark makes high-tech Halloween costumes.

Kid Karting: This is an Exciting Sport

Kids Who Race Kid Karts.

Perhaps, you are interested in knowing more about Kid Karting.  You may have even seen karts that are designed using 2 stroke and 4 stroke engines.  The word ‘stroke’ is really about how fast the engine runs.  Some karts can travel at 30 to 40 mp/h.

Safety and Good Courses

While dirt-biking is an off road activity, kid karting takes place on an asphalt road.  This is like a normal road that car drive upon.

What are kid karts and what is kid karting? – Kid karts are small versions of racing karts designed for kids aged 5 to 7. They use small 2 stroke or 4 stroke engines that are approx 2HP.  They go anywhere from 30 to 40MPH. Kid Karts race on the same track as any go kart, normally an asphalt road.

If Your Parents are Interested in Kid Karting…..

The first thing that parents do is to bring you to the nearest Kart course.  If you haven’t tried karting before, now is a good opportunity to see if you like it.  You need to be really dedicated as Karts are expensive to buy and to maintain.  There may be fees to be paid if you enter competitions.


Styles/Types of Karts

fully body kart

Ther eis the ‘full body” or another type is the  CIK.  This means that your kart will have full body plastic all around the kart.  Full body karts usually have the bigger 4-stroke engines.

The more common style of Kid Kart is CIK.  This is a typical European Kart with plastic pods and bumpers.  All of the hardware is metric.  There are probably 30 different brands of these karts.  They are much more common at sprint karting road coarse tracks.

Engines –

The most common engine is the Comer C50.

Then there is the Hondaengine.

The Big Engine.


Finally, a third engine that has gained some popularity is the Briggs LO206.  The Briggs LO206 is an engine that a racer can literally use from when they are in Kid Karts all the way up to when they are adults.


Karts – Most parents will want you to get a used kart.  They want to know that you will be fully committed to the sport. A used kart can cost between $500 USA to $1,000 USA.  Then the engine will cost another $500 USA.

Brand Name Karts

Some of the more popular quality karts to look for include TopKart, Birel, Praga, Margay, and Tony Kart.

Sports are Important.

The important thing is to be active in a sport.  It keeps your body fit and it give you the opportunity to meet you friends.

Kids: Here are Some Great Ways to Look After Your Dog


A dog is part of the family.

It has rights like you.  It needs to be fed.  It needs to be loved.

It does not need to be treated unkindly – yelled at, kicked, dragged, etc.

You would not like this to happen to you.  Animals feel pain like humans and they can feel fear.

-They do not understand your language – only a few words like

“Come”  “Sit”  “Down”  “Up” and maybe a few more.

You Have Made Mistakes, too!

As a human, you have made mistakes.   Someone told you about your mistake.

You understood them because you speak their langugage.   A dog needs to shown gently about his or her mistake.   Sometimes, it takes time for the dog to get it right.  Do the right thing – have kindness and patience.


 O.K Human Person – You are NOT going to Play Today!

Imagine the situation.  You are NOT sick.   You have not been bad.  Your parents simply won’t give you permission to go outside and play.  Let’s make it a lovely sunny day.   You want to know – Why not?

“I have my ball, let’s play!”

If you don’t take your dog out for walks – you are doing this to him or her.  Dogs like humans like to play and have fun.  Dogs can smell things better than humans.   When a dog is outside, it is like smelling things that you really like – smells of french fries or a bbq.  Dogs need to stop and smell things.  Don’t drag a dog along – let him or her stop and smell things.

Never Hit or Kick an Animal!

One dog knows that the other dog is hurt

If someone kicked you badly and you were in pain, your parents would take you to the doctor or hospital.  If the pain was really bad, you would get pills or pain killers.  You can speak and tell adults that you are in pain.


An animal cannot do this.   If your dog has been hit or kicked, it will have to suffer hours of pain.  This is just NOT fair.  If you are angry with your dog, walk away and tell your parents about it.  I’ll bet that your dog really does not fully understand what it did.

Think of Your Dog Like it was a Toddler

I will explain what I mean.   A toddler has accidents – it knocks over things.  It may pee somewhere other than the toilet.  You can yell at the toddler but it does not understand your language.  In fact, if you yell or shake it, the toddler will cry.   Its the same with your dog – the dog cries inside.  Its feelings are hurt.   A dog wants to please.  Be gentle and kind with it.


Don’t Feed Human Food to Your Dog!

Don’t give your dog human food

It is NOT kind to feed a dog things that you eat, unless its a nice piece of steak that you couldn’t eat.  What I am writing about is things like donuts or French fries.    NEVER give your dog CHOCOLATE – it can kill or make your dog very sick.  If you want to reward it, give the dog doggie treats.

Look after your dog/cat/any pet-  and you will never regret it!


And Then What Happened? by Pauline Gallagher ©


             by Pauline Gallagher  ©

This morning I got dressed for school.

And then what happened?

Rufus put his dirty paws all over me!



I ate my favorite cereal.

And then what happened?

My front tooth fell out!


I waited for the school bus.

And then what happened?

A speeding car splashed me!


I took off my boots in school.

And then what happened?

I saw a big hole in my sock!


I put up my hand in class.

And then what happened?

I got the wrong answer!


The teacher asked me a question.

And then what happened?

I go the right answer!


I was finger-painting,

And then what happened?

My nose became itchy!


I cleaned up for the teacher.

And then what happened?

I forgot to turn the water tap off!


I played ball in the school yard.

And then what happened?

I broke the Principal’s window!

Mom said there was no dessert.

And then what happened?

She took us to an ice cream parlour.


I broke my mom’s best vase.

And then what happened?

I was sent to my room.


My mother told my father

And then what happened?

My father told me to be careful.


My bedroom went dark.

And then what happened?

Mom and Dad kissed me “Goodnight.”


Our Own Pet Phobe Birds – They Have Laid Eggs

This is at least the fourth year for Mr. and Mrs. Phobe (Fee-bee) to return to our Canadian lake.  Penny is the wife and Frankie is the husband.  They are very friendly birds and often land near us when we are having coffee in the sun room.

Mrs. Phobe has built her mud and grass nest under our eave’s.  We cannot see her nest but she flies in and out of it quite often.  When Mrs. Phobe is on the nest, Mr. Phobe goes hunting for insects.

Here are some notes from a book on birds.

Mrs. Penny Phone
Mr. Frankie Phone

One of our most familiar eastern flycatchers, the Eastern Phoebe’s raspy “phoebe” (Fee-bee)  call is a frequent sound around yards and farms in spring and summer. These brown-and-white songbirds sit upright and wag their tails from prominent, low perches. They typically place their mud-and-grass nests in protected nooks on bridges, barns, and houses, which adds to the species’ familiarity to humans. Hardy birds, Eastern Phoebes winter farther north than most other flycatchers and are one of the earliest returning migrants in spring.

Size & Shape
The Eastern Phoebe is a plump songbird with a medium-length tail. It appears large-headed for a bird of its size. The head often appears flat on top, but phoebes sometimes raise the feathers up into a peak. Like most small flycatchers, they have short, thin bills used for catching insects.

Color Pattern
The Eastern Phoebe is brownish-gray above and off-white below, with a dusky wash to the sides of the breast. The head is typically the darkest part of the upperparts. Birds in fresh fall plumage show faint yellow on the belly and whitish edging on the folded wing feathers.

The Eastern Phoebe generally perches low in trees or on fencelines. Phoebes are very active, making short flights to capture insects and very often returning to the same perch. They make sharp “peep” calls in addition to their familiar “phoebe” vocalizations. When perched, Eastern Phoebes wag their tails down and up frequently.

These birds favor open woods such as yards, parks, woodlands, and woodland edges. Phoebes usually breed around buildings or bridges on which they construct their nests under the protection of an eave or ledge.

“Hakuna Matata” Lyrics from the “Lion King”

“Hakuna Matata” lyrics

  • Timon (T)
  • Pumbaa P)
  • Both
  • Simba (S)

Hakuna Matata! What a wonderful phrase (T)

Hakuna Matata! Ain't no passing craze  (P)

It means no worries for the rest of your days (T)

It's our problem-free philosophy (T)

Hakuna Matata! (P)

Hakuna Matata? (S)

Yeah. It's our motto!

What's a motto?   (S)

Nothing. What's a-motto with you?

Those two words will solve all your problems (P)

That's right. Take Pumbaa here    (T)
Why, when he was a young warthog...

When I was a young wart hog (P)

Very nice (T)

Thanks (P)

He found his aroma lacked a certain appeal  (T)
He could clear the savannah after every meal (T)

I'm a sensitive soul though I seem thick-skinned
And it hurt that my friends never stood downwind
And oh, the shame		He was ashamed
Thought of changin' my name	What's in a name?
And I got downhearted		How did ya feel?
Everytime that I... (P)

Hey! Pumbaa! Not in front of the kids! (T)
Oh. Sorry (P)

Hakuna Matata! What a wonderful phrase
Hakuna Matata! Ain't no passing craze

It means no worries for the rest of your days

It's our problem-free philosophy
Hakuna Matata!
Hakuna Matata! Hakuna matata!
Hakuna Matata! Hakuna matata!
Hakuna Matata! Hakuna matata!
Hakuna Matata! Hakuna--

It means no worries for the rest of your days

It's our problem-free philosophy
Hakuna Matata!

I say "Hakuna"

I say "Matata"

Music by Elton John, lyrics by Tim Rice
Performed by Max Casella, Tom Allan Robbins, Scott Irby-Ranniar, and Jason Raize

Summer Sun – Poem by Robert Louis Stevenson

Summer Sun – Poem by Robert Louis Stevenson

Great is the sun, and wide he goes

Through empty heaven with repose;

And in the blue and glowing days

More thick than rain he showers his rays.

Though closer still the blinds we pull

To keep the shady parlour cool,

Yet he will find a chink or two

To slip his golden fingers through.

The dusty attic spider-clad

He, through the keyhole, maketh glad;

And through the broken edge of tiles

Into the laddered hay-loft smiles.

Meantime his golden face around

He bares to all the garden ground,

And sheds a warm and glittering look

Among the ivy’s inmost nook.

Above the hills, along the blue,

Round the bright air with footing true,

To please the child, to paint the rose,

The gardener of the World, he goes.

Robert Louis Stevenson

The Sun: Some Fun Facts for Kids

Humans have always been in fascinated by the sun.  Ancient Egyptians had a sun godcalled RA.


In central America, the Aztec’s sun god was named Tonatiuh.


Human life would disappear without the sun.  All living things- human and non-human need the sun for heat and light.  Grass, crops, plants grow and feed the planet’s inhabitants through a process called PHOTOSYNTHESIS.



The sun together with water and carbon dioxide helps plant life to grow.  Human bodies need the sun to give us vitamin D which is produced underneath the skin.

How big is the Sun?

-one million earths could fit inside the sun.  Scientists consider it an AVERAGE-SIZED star.

How Long Does it Take for Light to Reach Earth?

The light that you are now seeing left the sun eight (8) minutes ago.

How Old is the Sun?

I am 4.6 million years old!

How Hot is the Sun?

Let’s put it his way, if you drove into the sun by spaceship, you would burn up long before you reached its inner core. The inner core is thought to be around 160 million degrees Celsius.!!!  The outer temperature is around 5500 Celsius (9,941 Fahrenheit) The average temperature of the earth is below 60 Celsius.

Around 74% of the Sun’s mass is made up of hydrogen. Helium makes up around 24% while heavier elements such as oxygen, carbon, iron and neon make up the remaining percentage.

Kids Can Make Zucchini Fries

Easy to Make:  Zucchini Fries.

Zucchini fries are delicious.  They are quick to make, and unlike greasy French fries, Zucchini fries have just a little olive oil sprinkled over them.

Let’s Get Going:

Simply cut your zucchini into quarters lengthwise, sprinkle on that Parmesan goodness and throw into the oven to let it get nice and crisp.

Here are the simple ingredients.  Most of them will be found in your kitchen.

—zucchini, quartered lengthwise

—1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan

—1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

—1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

—1/2 teaspoon dried basil

—1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

—  sprinkle lightly with salt and freshly ground black pepper,

—2 tablespoons olive oil

—2 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves



1.  Make sure that you are allowed to operate the oven or ask an adult to help.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

3. Coat a cooling rack with nonstick spray and place on a baking sheet; set aside.

Small Bowl Needed

4. In a small bowl,MIX Parmesan, thyme, oregano, basil, garlic powder, salt and pepper.  Don’t put in too much salt or pepper.

You can always add these later when everything is cooked.

Baking Sheet

5. Place zucchini onto prepared baking sheet. Drizzle (add very little) olive oil— and sprinkle with Parmesan mixture.

Into the Oven

6. Place into oven and bake until tender, about 15 minutes.

7.  Turn on the switch that says “broil.”  The oven is hot, so check with an adult when doing this action.

Then broil for 2-3 minutes, or until crisp and golden brown.

Serve immediately, garnished with parsley, if desired.

Bon Appétit  which is French for……enjoy your meal.

The Moon: Poem by Robert Louis Stevenson

Enjoy “The Moon” by Robert Louis Stevenson.  He wrote “Treasure Island,”  “Kidnapped” and “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.”

The Moon :

The moon has a face like the clock in the hall; 

She shines on thieves on the garden wall, 

On streets and fields and harbour quays, 

And birdies asleep in the forks of the trees. 

The squalling cat and the squeaking mouse, 

The howling dog by the door of the house, 

The bat that lies in bed at noon, 

All love to be out by the light of the moon. 

But all of the things that belong to the day 

Cuddle to sleep to be out of her way; 

And flowers and children close their eyes 

Till up in the morning the sun shall rise. 

Robert Louis Stevenson.