When Brian Hummel heard elementary school students from Bald Eagle Area School District were in need of help getting soap box cars ready to race, he knew it would be a perfect project for his students in the collision repair program at Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology.
Hummel said three CPI freshmen and two sophomores helped paint red and maroon cars, and made sure they were up to racing and inspection standards. The class got the cars earlier in the spring and finished them about three weeks ago, Hummel said.
It took CPI students more than two months to help get soapbox cars ready for other students at BEA
“Two or three months seems like a lot of time, but when you factor in snow days and testing and the other things they’re doing, it’s not that much,” he said. “It’s a timely process, but that’s one of the reasons they look so nice.”
Students worked for about an hour and a half most school days researching and then finding and ordering material, such as flexible adhesive that fit the material of the car.
“It’s similar to a car bumper, but for our younger students, this was all new,” Hummel said.
The process included a series of sanding and priming before painting the cars in a color to match the vehicle’s sponsors.
Those cars will be featured during a soap box derby race from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday during the Bellefonte Cruise.
Normally, my first lesson would have them touch up and repair old junk bumpers, but they got to do the race cars with the same material, and in the end do custom paintwork. It made it exciting because in the end they know their work will be recognized
Brian Hummel, CPI instructor
“Normally, my first lesson would have them touch up and repair old junk bumpers, but they got to do the race cars with the same material, and in the end do custom paintwork,” Hummel said. “It made it exciting because in the end they know their work will be recognized.”
The soap box derby program began at BEA in the late winter or early spring when a dad of some students in the district, Alan Uhler, encouraged it.
“He’s a local community member with kids in our schools and involved in soap box (derbies),” district Director of Curriculum and Instruction Tracy Boone said. “He approached us about getting a group started at BEA and it worked out.”
Soapbox derby program at BEA is part of district’s STEM curriculum
She said it’s also part of the district’s STEM curriculum for after-school activities.
“It’s really great because they’re being hands-on and following directions,” Boone said.
But when they realized some help was needed, Boone said she reached out to the high school’s woodshop class and MaryAnn Volders, vice president of secondary education at CPI.
“We knew they needed to be painted and assembled — they came in a gazillion pieces — so we reached out to them to see if they had the proper tools, and it gave them real-life activity,” Boone said.
19 BEA students partipate in soapbox derby
She said 19 fifth-grade students from the district’s four elementary schools are part of the program and had their first race last week in DuBois.
“They had a fabulous time and got a lot of positive comments,” Boone said. “I think they’re really looking forward to this weekend.”