AKRON As spring arrives, it is time to think about where the kids might like to go to camp. An opportunity for kids to learn, without them even realizing it, is the All-American Soapbox Derby's STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) Summer Camp.
The camp is held at the famed hill at Derby Downs, 789 Derby Downs Drive, and is designed for kids ages 9 to 12. It is a five-day program that gives kids the opportunity to construct and race a Soap Box Derby car, make friends and be part of a racing team. Kids also get to design, build, race and take home a Mini Soap Box car. Family and friends are invited to the race and awards ceremony on the last day where the campers can showcase their team's STEM race week achievements and participate in a variety of fun, hands-on STEM projects.
Sessions for the camp are held from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. June 11 to 15 and June 18 to 22. For more information, call 330-733-8723 or visit soapboxderby.org. Registration is available online.
The STEM camp is just one of the several events the Derby has planned for people of all ages:
- From May 17-19, there will be the GRC Gravity Racing Challenge STEM Team Competition presented by the University of Akron’s College of Engineering. Students use a kit to build a car, but then can turn it into whatever their creative minds can envision. Last year, two highlights were a Thomas the Train car and a Ghostbuster car buitl in the Super Stock Engineering Design Challenge. That event is held on May 17 this year. On May 19, those in grades 3 through 5, and then grades 6 through 8 race their super stock cars which are built with adult supervision. The challenge is for school groups, girl scouts, boy scouts and any organization for children.
- The United Way Corporate Challenge presented by Fallsway Equipment Company is a team building event for corporations, small businesses, church groups, fraternities, sororities and community organizations to compete, have fun and raise money for the derby. It involves team work and creativity to build a car and not a typical derby car. Teams use a pre-manufactured kit for the car chassis that includes, axles, tires, braking system and from there it all imagination and creativity to come up with a unique design. Doreen Thorne, marketing manager for the derby, said the corporate challenge "provides team building and supports the derby and its educational resources, providing opportunities for youth to utilize its educational programs."
The corporate challenge event is a fundraiser for the derby. The funds are used to help with providing scholarships for students, education and to give back to youth organizations. Last year, the derby gave back to the community more than $10,000. The challenge car unveiling reception will be held July 12 and winners of the designs will be announced. The next day, the challenge race will take place.
- From July 15-21 is race week for the famed FirstEnergy All-American World Championships. Race day at the derby makes for a fun family event.
- Aug. 30 is the Cleveland Clinic Akron General Senior Day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. A day for senior citizens to cross off an item on their bucket list to race down the hill in an adult car. Guests will also be treated to a catered lunch, live entertainment and have an opportunity to interact with doctors from Cleveland Clinic Akron General and peruse the health fair.
- Sept. 8 is Family Day at the track. Family Day provides an opportunity for the entire family to ride down the Derby Downs track. Adults and children alike can experience the speed from gravity. Enjoy the day with food trucks, face painters, games and activities. The day begins at 11 a.m. and continues to 3 p.m. Registration will soon be available . Children must be at least seven years old, 46 inches tall and be able to operate a car on their own to participate.
Thorne said the derby offers a full array of opportunities for youth on up to have the chance to ride down the Derby Downs track. A unique experience for all ages to enjoy the" thrill of the hill."
For other upcoming events, cost, hours, more information or to register for a program or event visit www.soapboxderby.org or call 330-733-8723.