By Lisa Dumas
Students from the local, non-profit group Quad A for Kids competed in the All American Soap Box Derby in Akron, Ohio, Saturday, May 16, racing against other students from across the country, in cars they built themselves to compete in the youth racing program, officials from the organization stated.
According to officials, the Quad A for Kids team took second and third place in the Super Stock Division, and third and fourth place in the Stock Division.
“We are coming home to Rochester as champions, this is a great way to celebrate the hard work, and dedication, that the children have demonstrated related to their STEM activities throughout the school year,” said Dr. Seanelle Tracy, Quad A for Kids executive director.
And, most notably, Tracy said, the experience is something the kids will never forget.
“Most importantly, for many of the children, they’ve never been outside of Rochester,” she stated. “They experienced the derby, they stayed in a hotel, and, they really felt a sense of pride about what they were doing. So, this was a culminating event. They participated in building the car, and then to race that car down a racetrack; it was a real racetrack in Akron, Ohio.”
Tracy said the students had been participating in a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) curriculum in the Quad A program, which began with building a prototype of the race cars at the beginning of the year. Then, the students who participated in the derby ultimately built, and developed, the final version of their cars, which they then entered into the race.
“They begin with a small prototype, and they learn what needs to go into the car to actually make that car movable,” Tracy stated. “And then, when they start practicing, they learn how to maneuver that car. So, they understand all of that before they even build that bigger car. And, they had so much fun; they didn’t even understand that they were learning. So, they loved this project.”
However, the science that went into building the cars was not lost on 10-year-old Jamanni Penn.
“I learned that when you go down the hill, the heavier you are; the faster you will go down,” Penn stated. “And, I also learned that we used pulleys to make the brakes, and the steering wheel. And that, it’s like a gravitational pull, like pulling you down the hill.”
In addition, 12-year-old Anthony Gonzalez said “going down the hill with the car” had been the best part of the race. “It was fun. We got to have fun,” he stated.
Tracy said the organization funded the Akron trip through donations from sponsors, and that, although Quad A is still seeking sponsors to cover the cost of the trip, the group is also seeking sponsors to cover the cost of a local, upcoming derby in Rochester.
She said the group hopes to ultimately sell the cars once the students have had a final opportunity to race them.
“We take the cars, and we wrap the cars in the family’s name,” Tracy said. “So, it would have the family name on it, with the logo you chose, and that would be your car. We took pictures of the cars, and we were tweeting the cars out that were there. So, it would really be great for a sponsor who was looking to get their name out there.”
Nonetheless, although the group has still been seeking donors to pay for the cost of the Akron trip, as well as for the new race, she said the benefit of taking the kids to the race, overall, far outweighed its cost.
“Right now this project is operating in a negative, but we just knew we were not going to say, ‘we can’t afford to send the children to Akron,’” Tracy stated.
Forty-five people traveled to Akron, in total, according to Tracy, including the students, as well as car handlers, and chaperons for the overnight trip. In addition, she said 28 students participated in the race this year, up from 13 students the year before.
And almost twice as many students plan to participate in the upcoming race, she said.
“There’s our local derby on the 30th of May,” Tracy stated. “The kids that will be participating locally will be about 50 kids from Quad A.”
Anyone interested in attending the local race, or becoming a sponsor, may visit http://www.quadaforkids.com/ for additional information, according to Tracy.
The local race will be held May 30, on Lakeshore Blvd., in Rochester.