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Grandpa's Advisory to Pinewood Derby Officials.
( "He" means "He or She" throughout. )
Young people enter into many different competitions, and for the most part, it is a healthful experience.
When a kid grows a little taller than the others, he has an advantage in basketball. We don't change the rules in basketball to take this advantage away.
When a kid is stronger by genetics or by his own workouts, we don't change rules in sports to take away his advantage. In fact, we cheer him on, and he feels credited for his accomplishments.
But if a smart kid uses his brains to gain an advantage in a Pinewood Derby, then we simply change the rules to take away the advantage. "No springs," was a rule that was added - then later, "No springs or other suspension systems." No axle designs - or different wheels - or lubricants - or much of anything that allows the "nerd" to shine. Studying math and science and being smart are designated "unfair advantages." But being tough and strong and tall are "fair advantages" in all the sports. It's no wonder the young girls become attracted to the strong and tough boys, and are turned from the male honor student who does not have these things. We teach them in these subtle ways to distain brain and be attracted to brawn. This is not to argue against brawn, but just to argue for brain.
Make the "nerd" a hero. So long as the car is 5 ounces or less, 7 inches long or less, and has no "active" devices like motors or rubber bands running propellers, then call the car legitimate. An entirely passive coasting vehicle that uses only the fall in gravity for energy should be legal and honorable. If the kid's smart enough to know that a suspended wheel wastes less energy, why shouldn't that knowledge and the ability to make it happen count for something in the race?
Enforce more strictly the rule that the kid must build his own car. Have the kid certify on a document that he built his own car entirely and that the only help he received was verbal. Then let the Dads and Moms have a separate race.
The parent or other person ought to be able to teach the kid anything the kid is willing and able to learn, and the kid should be allowed to apply that knowledge for himself in a Pinewood Derby or any other non-sports competition, the same as in sports.
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