Blog, Teaching

Pinewood Derby: A Teaching Moment

I’m not a crafty mom. I’m not even a very creative mom. I don’t follow directions well and I always put things together at the last minute. So when I first heard about the Pinewood Derby project for my son’s cub scout pack a few years ago, I panicked. How in the world was I going to help my son build a car, much less figure out how to come up with a concept for his car? 

What I quickly learned was that this project would be a teaching moment for all of us.

 As a teacher, I love teaching moments. I spend hours, even days, devising plans for classroom lectures, projects and assignments and then I do my best to make the plans a reality. But, I don’t do it alone. I give my students the information and then they add their own creative touch to the assignments and class materials.

 The Pinewood Derby is very similar. We began by discussing the project. My son then came up with an idea for the look of the car (this year’s concept was a long john donut). Then, we decided that we needed help, an expert of sorts to help us put the plan into action (sort of like that research that teachers insist upon J).

 In comes my brother-in-law, a woodworking master. He assessed the project and then gave my son the tools (and a helping hand) to work this plain block of wood into a masterpiece.

 We needed more experts, though, and we looked to my significant other for a creative touch. He took my son to Home Depot with an actual donut and matched the paint colors so that the car would resemble an actual donut (yes – maybe we took it too far …) and then they painted the parts.

 The car came together beautifully, but the teaching moment was even more stunning. We all learned something throughout this process.

  •  I learned that we all need teachers (other than ourselves) to impact our learning.
  • My son learned that quality time with the men in his life is worth more than winning a race.
  • My brother-in-law and significant other learned that they both are experts in their own way.

 As much as I dreaded this project, it was clearly a blessing in disguise. Not only will my son cherish these memories, but the rest of the family will also remember the teaching moment that we experienced.

 Teaching is not a sole act – it is a team effort. Our team didn’t even come close to winning the race, but we won a lesson instead. As a teacher, I’d say that is worth much more than one of those shiny trophies.


– Shannon Philpott
Blog Entry: Jan. 30, 2010

 © Shannon Philpott, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Shannon Philpott and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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