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Soapbox race allows students to apply lessons
SAN LUIS, Ariz. — A group of high school students didn't exactly set any land speed records Friday as they raced soapbox cars down a hill here.
But the competition did serve as a lesson in the value of recycling.
Students in the engineering class at San Luis High School vied in a soapbox derby to see who could build the fastest car with no out-of-pocket expenses.
For the school's third annual soapbox derby, the students assembled their cars from salvaged wood, metal and other scrap materials.
“We put to test what we have learned about the force of gravity and how we can use it so that the car gains more speed,” said Enrique Cervantes. “We apply what we learn in engineering class.”
Cervantes and his teammates for the derby — Juan Urquijo, Sergio Arias and Javier Reyna — assembled their car from particle board, scrap metal bars that served as the frame and a discarded plastic seat.
“It was a lot of fun,” said Cervantes. “When it begins to accelerate, you can lose control, as happened to me.”
At the conclusion of one of its downhill runs, the car tipped over. Nonetheless it completed the course in the fastest average time, enabling Cervantes and his teammates to win the derby.
In all, six teams took part in the derby in the month-long project that limited the students to using salvaged materials.
“The general goal was for them to learn to design and build a car in a way that it is fast and safe – that was the goal,” said Jason Lambrix, the students' teacher.
“It's a good way for them to put in practice what they learn in the class, but mainly it's for fun,” Lambrix added. “We have done several complex projects lately, and the students have a lot of fun doing this.”