What To.Do.With A 6 Year Old.Boy In.South Carolina Space Derby – How to Win at a Fun Cub Scout Activity

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Space Derby – How to Win at a Fun Cub Scout Activity

Last Saturday, my 8-year-old son participated in his first Space Derby with his Cub Scout pack. Many boys, parents, siblings and Cub Scout leaders showed up for the event. What is space derby? Well, it’s probably a little different than what you imagined.

Every Cub Scout receives a Space Derby kit with their Cub Scout pack. The kit consists of balsa wood, which each participant will use to shape the body of a rocket. There is also plastic material in the kit that can be cut to fashion fins for the rocket. This is where it starts to sound a little weird. There is also a propeller in the kit. A propeller?!! I thought this was a rocket? Well, it’s supposed to look like a rocket, but the propeller actually propels the rocket. The Cub Scouts race their rockets four at a time. The rockets hang horizontally from a fishing line and the propellers are powered by a rubber band that comes with the kit.

The rockets are judged in three categories; speed, beauty and originality. It quickly becomes clear that the main thing that makes a rocket go fast is its weight. Since all rockets are powered the same and wound equally, the lighter your rocket, the faster it will go. However, if you make your rocket light, you risk structural failure when the rubber bands are injured. So it’s a balancing act to have a light, but strong rocket to have a fast one.

My son and I decided to go for the beauty category since this was his first space derby. We wanted to get an idea of ​​how the other rockets would perform in terms of speed this time. We followed the instructions in the kit and began gluing the two balsa wood halves together. Next we used very clear sandpaper to start making the shape of our rocket. I later learned from some of the other parents that a potato masher works wonders for shaving wood off the body to get the rough shape of the rocket. Not having this information to begin with, we used sand. Once we got the basic shape we wanted, we used finer sand. We switched to 400 grit sandpaper, then finally 800.

Then we sprayed the rocket with primer. After the primer was thoroughly dry, we sanded it with the 800 grit sandpaper. We then added another layer of primer and sanded it again. We continued this process until the rocket body was smooth enough to our satisfaction. I have a friend who said I should have used a sanding primer. He says it would fill the cracks in the balsa wood with just one or two coats. I’ll have to take his word for it. I used regular spray paint primer…the cheap stuff.

After we were finished and sanding, we sprayed a coat of candy apple red on the body. When spray painting, there are a few tips that will make a huge difference in how your finished model will look. Spray paint only in a well-ventilated area. It is important that you hold the spray can the correct distance from your model…about 6 inches is usually recommended. If you get it too close, your paint job will have runs in it; too far and your paint will have an orange peel effect (it will look rough and dull). Keep the can moving while spraying…again, too much time spent in one spot will result in runs and not-so-great paint.

When you spray paint your rocket, you can fashion a fuselage carrier out of a clothes hanger. This prevents you from getting spray all over your hands and getting fingerprints on your fresh paint. Be sure to have a safe place where you can put the end of your hanger, preventing your fresh paint from touching anything until it dries. Allow plenty of time for your paint to dry (30 minutes) before adding a second coat or (2 – 4 hours) before touching the rocket, depending on the humidity.

After the first coat was dry, we added a second coat of sweet apple red. We painted the fins and the propeller in addition after preparing them. Since we didn’t have stickers, I used silver and black sharpies to draw lightning bolts on mailing labels. I then cut out the lightning bolts and glued them onto the rocket body. My wife used a fine point black sharpie to add Captain Justin Rodgers to one of the rockets tail fins.

Justin’s rocket won first place in the category of beauty. He performed well in terms of speed, but we will definitely make a lighter rocket for next year. I hope you found some useful tips in this article to build your own winning space derby rocket.

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