On your mark, get set, go!
The annual Flushing Meadows Soap Box Derby will be held this Saturday, June 13, to determine which kids will move on to represent the city in the National All-American Race this summer.
This year’s derby will host 61 racers from the ages of 7 to 18 driving cars of their own design and construction. The event will take place on 23rd Avenue and 94th Street in East Elmhurst from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Vaughn College is collaborating with the nonprofit racing program to provide space for their youngsters to build cars with the help of college interns. Additionally, Saturday’s winners will get a $2,000 scholarship to the school.
According to Henry Foster, director of the Flushing Meadows Soap Box Derby, building a functional race car is an excellent way to give kids a hands-on experience in real-world science and technology. Figuring out the aerodynamics of a car and learning how weight and gravity can affect its speed are problem-solving tasks that can serve to introduce children to the principles of elementary physics.
“There’s just a whole litany of things you have to learn, and it’s hands-on,” said Foster. “They learn faster when it’s something they use every day.”
Children racing in the derby are separated into three skill divisions according to age and experience. The winners in each category will compete in Akron, Ohio, this July in the National All-American race.
The All-American Soap Box Derby is run by the International Soap Box Derby Incorporated, a nonprofit organization based in Akron. The first-ever derby was held in 1934 after a local newspaper photographer came across local boys racing homemade cars and acquired the copyright to host a larger event with corporate sponsors. It has been held annually ever since, except for a four-year hiatus during World War II.
The first Flushing Meadows Soap Box Derby was held in 1984, and was the first New York soap box derby in 20 years.