Pinewood Derby

Pinewood Derby Gives CHS Engineering Students Hands-on Experience
Posted on 05/05/2021
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Carson High School Career and Technical Education (CTE) students received hands-on experience last month when they created and raced their own pinewood derby cars. The experience was more sophisticated than a typical Cub Scout contest because the architectural and civil engineering students had to first create the car design using the computer-aided design (CAD) software, Autodesk. They then used power tools to build their car from a block of wood to fit the specifications of their CAD results.

Mr. Collin Belnap, architectural and civil engineering instructor for Carson High School, said the students typically spend the first semester learning how to use the software to design their creative concepts and the latter half of the semester helps them apply the curriculum in meaningful, real-world ways.

“Despite this year’s circumstances with the pandemic, we are really, really fortunate to show students they can learn and try whatever they want if they apply themselves,” Belnap said. “Whatever your brain can dream up, we can probably build in this class, and if we can’t build it in this class, go to third- and fourth-year engineering where we have the CNC (computer numerical control) machine and we can build it out of aluminum.”

CHS Vice Principal Amy Freismidl, who oversees the school’s Career and Technical Education program, said the CTE program is beneficial for the visual and kinesthetic learners. She also said the non-traditional path for some students draws more appeal, adding the exploratory, hands-on nature allows them to discover new talents and skills.

“These courses have fostered new interests and helped students decide what to major in heading into college, Freismidl said. “We’ve had students who are either in engineering or health science or different paths or programs, and they have gone into one of these classes and learned that they want to go into civil or electrical engineering. It’s really exciting.”

For information about Carson High’s CTE program, visit

Photo CaptionCarson High School junior Omar Munoz holds the 3D printed “First Place” trophy along with his winning Pinewood Derby car he created using computer-aided design software.