The Soapbox Derby
The first annual Soapbox Derby Race started with an impressive performance by the Viking ship. Perched on top of the grassy hill at hole 13 on the golf course, a student from Socorro’s Cottonwood Valley Charter School (CVCS) sat in the seat of the cart, with a full face helmet just visible above the rim of the Viking ship shaped chart. “3, 2, 1, GO!” sounds out of a megaphone. The NMT student behind the car takes one big step and shoves the cart over the lip of the hill, sending the cart with its passenger careening down the grassy slope.
The Viking ship is the first of four racers in the first annual Soapbox Derby Race. The Viking ship and the three other carts are co-designed by NMT mechanical engineers and students from CVCS. Each cart is unique in material, mechanisms, and appearance. Beside the Viking ship, there’s a cart shaped like a hammerhead shark, a cart with a paper mache tiger face mounted on the front, and an angular, teal blue racing car.
The Soapbox Derby is split into two main competitions: the first is a speed competition, where the carts are timed from the starting line on top of the hill to a finish line at the bottom of the hill. How far the carts move after the finish line is factored in. The second competition is an agility test. Starting from the same place on top of the hill, contestants are given a push and must navigate their way down the hill following sharp twists and turns between cones. After the two events, judges scored the carts on other factors like safety and quality of construction.
At first, nobody seemed able to beat the Viking ship’s impressive first run. None of the other carts came close in their first attempts, but in the second round of attempts the winds turned in the favor of the hammerhead. The hammerhead passed the Viking ship’s farthest distance with ease, then continued to glide down the fairway.
With more attempts available, I asked Casper Huang, an NMT teammate for the Viking ship, how they planned on regaining the lead. “At this point, we can only trust in the driver.” said Huang.
In the end, the hammerhead took first place in the speed and distance competition. The second event, the agility test, was an impressive display of not only driver deftness, but also the cart’s design. Each turning mechanism was uniquely designed, and handled the course’s sharp turns with varying degrees of success. In the end, tiger face came out on top.
The Soapbox Derby Race on Thursday, April 11th was the culmination of work from students at both schools since October of 2018. The Soapbox Derby will return next year for a season two, so stay tuned!