Claremore Daily Progress

October 8, 2012

WRJH students take 1st and 2nd place in downhill soap box derby

Mark Friedel
Staff Reporter

CLAREMORE — The level two Technology Engineering class and teacher David Isenbart brought home first and second place trophies in the 5th annual Great Sand Springs Downhill Soap Box Derby.

As the class arrived at the event, students expected to race in the youth division, however the group was in for a surprise after realizing they had signed up for the adult competitive division.
“This was a pretty intense experience for these students,” said teacher David Isenbart.  “We didn’t know what to expect because we had only participated in the youth competitive, but in the end our hard work paid off.”
This was not an overnight project for the students of WRJH.  The class worked everyday for weeks to get the soap box cars ready for inspections.
“The 3D layout took about three to four weeks to build,” said Isenbart.  Students formed half-inch styrofoam sheets which were then made into a fiberglass mold, before adding some finishing touches.  Overall the cars weighed about 200 pounds each, not including the driver.
“We had an engineer, Kevin Franks from Dallas, come up to help with the process and he ended up donating tires from a world record derby car,” he said. 
Franks taught a two hour engineering lesson involving math and science for the students of the technology class before joining them at the Sand Springs derby. This is the fourth year that Isenbart’s class has participated in the event. Isenbart said the first year the students finished dead last and have come a long way to win first in the adult competitive category.
The derby was based on a series of races set up into a tournament-style bracket.
“Any student who wanted to drive was allowed,” said Isenbart.
One of the drivers, 8th-grader Brady Kropp said pushing it up the hill was the toughest part. 
“We wanted to push it instead of having it hauled to eliminate any possible damage,” said Kropp.
Students enjoyed building the derby cars as much as racing, said Isenbart.
Eighth-grader Jason Barnes, one of the master builders in the class, helped with the creating and construction process.
“My favorite part was the 3D model programming,” said Barnes. He said he would like to someday go into race car engineering. Another eighth-grader Jake Chalfin was in charge of sanding the fiberglass shell to create more aerodynamics.
“I really enjoyed the physical work of the project,” he said.  “It was cool to be able to see our creations come to life.”
Isenbart was more than happy with the effort from the students.
“These are great kids and they have worked hard to accomplish their goals,” he said.  “We ran into a few problems but nobody ever complained.  I’m very happy with the class.”
Finished with the soap box derby, the students will now move into robotics and later build a fully-operational hovercraft to race against Pryor and Oologah classes.