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Crossing the finish line: Compass Program's middle school students participate in a pinewood derby

Oct. 5, 2016: Seventh- and eighth-grade students in Cayuga-Onondaga BOCES’ Compass Program experienced the satisfaction of hands-on learning during a recent two-day pinewood derby.

Middle school students worked on the design and production of their cars since the start of the 2016-17 school year. Over the past month, students transformed blocks of wood into sleek, pinewood derby cars.

“The derby is a great example of the power of project-based learning,” said Compass Program Principal Mr. Drew Yakawiak. “Our teachers weaved math, science, social students, and ELA into the production of the cars. This month-long learning opportunity has helped students increase their overall GPA in the core subjects.”

About the project:
Students received a car kit which contained a block of pine and wheels. After designing their car’s body, and under the guidance of their teachers, students carefully shaped the wood. Each car needed to weigh less than 140 grams.

“It’s all about modifications and aerodynamics,” said Mr. Becker, middle school science teacher. “Students had to determine how they wanted their car to be shaped.”

Students then inspected the wheels, inserted axles, and painted their cars.

This is the first year the Compass Program has organized the pinewood derby project.

“My favorite part of the project was seeing the look of satisfaction on the kids' faces when they finished their cars,” said Mr. Becker. 

Students raced their cars on an official pinewood derby track over the course of two-days. The track was generously provided by a local Boy Scout troop.

Seventh-grade student Austin couldn’t choose his favorite part of the project.  “I loved everything,” he enthusiastically proclaimed.

To learn more about CO BOCES’ Compass Program, click here.





Brian K. Hartwell, Ed.D.
District Superintendent of Schools

1879 West Genesee Street Rd.
Auburn, NY 13021
Phone: (315) 253-0361

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