Ethics Question

How to have useful construction workshops.
Sylvar
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Ethics Question

Post by Sylvar » Wed Sep 29, 2004 7:45 am

OK, this just hit me and I need some advice. I am holding some workshops this year. I made this decision after last years race when we had a couple of cars that could not get down the track. It was heart breaking for those boys. I made a promise to myself that I make sure every boy had an opportunity to build a car that would run well.

Here is my dilemma. I want to cover the basics of building a fast car, but I don’t want that to be the focus of the workshop. If I didn’t know all the “little things” that I know it would not be a problem. Is it wrong for me to not mention things that might handicap a car? Don’t get me wrong. I am not trying to hide anything from the boys or their dad. No trade secrets to protect. However, I don’t want to get into things like wheel mold numbers and have somebody complain that the kit I gave them has two #14’s in it.

Any thoughts?

Shane



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Stan Pope
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Re: Ethics Question

Post by Stan Pope » Wed Sep 29, 2004 9:38 am

Good question!

You identified the motivation for the workshop. That dealt with avoiding disasterous runs ... cars that performed very poorly.

Yes you could make the workshop into a "masters course on PWD building", but that is not the purpose. You could tell 'em everything, but that keeps them from having any thrill of discovery.

Hit the basics, support them in implementing their concepts, allow them to test their results, i.e. a track and a reference car. (You might want to make a "no racing" rule)

It's okay if they dig about and discover / learn more than you intended to teach.


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Re: Ethics Question

Post by Darin McGrew » Wed Sep 29, 2004 9:51 am

I cover the basics in my "welcome to derby season" talk: straight axles, lubricated wheels, maximum weight, that sort of thing.

And our workshops facilitate the basics: A drill press to assure straight axle holes, lubricant, tools to adjust weight, etc.

I also include a flier with a few additional tips, and references to additional resources.

But then, I have an easy excuse: "I'm not the best person to talk about speed, since I always spend most of my time on the design of the car." (But next year, I'm considering making a LBW-style car, wrapped in a candy-bar wrapper so that it still has some character.)



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Re: Ethics Question

Post by Sylvar » Wed Sep 29, 2004 10:41 am

Oh, there will be no racing at the workshop. However, The track might have a timer on it by then. My thought was, if a boy comes to multiple workshops he would be able to tell if tuning the car made it faster or slower. That might not be so good though if the boys start comparing times. On race day we use a lane judge(different track), so no times will be available.

Thanks for putting my fears to rest guys!

Shane



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Re: Ethics Question

Post by Cory » Wed Sep 29, 2004 1:14 pm

Sylvar wrote:However, The track might have a timer on it by then. My thought was, if a boy comes to multiple workshops he would be able to tell if tuning the car made it faster or slower. That might not be so good though if the boys start comparing times. On race day we use a lane judge(different track), so no times will be available.
We purposely do not install the finish line on our track during workshops/trials. The last thing we want is for Trials Day to turn into a sort of uncontrolled Race Day.

Also, at Trials we do not let boys race against anyone against whom they might race on Race Day, which for us means anyone in their Den and Rank. They can race against boys in other Ranks and they can race against cars from past years. We supply some sample cars to race against, as Stan suggested.

As for speed advice, I give out the basics only. I might give out more esoteric info (e.g. mold numbers) but only if specifically asked by an individual and only if I know it off the top of my head. Usually I will refer someone to the web for that sort of thing. Likewise if they ask some sort of open ended "Pssst...what are all the other silver bullets?" sort of question, which some people will do.

If you're running a workshop, you may find you don't have time to get into lots of details. You'll be plenty busy helping the people who really need your help.



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Re: Ethics Question

Post by nosam116 » Wed Oct 26, 2005 12:04 pm

Sticking to the basics have worked for me the last two years. However, I say to the group, if a scout and his parent would like to share info, or talk with me outside the workshop group on "refining their car" I'd be happy to sit down with them.
I honestly don't have all the answers or build the fastest cars, but I have read a lot and between my sons and me in the Open Divisions, have enough reputation to be able to feel like I can offer some helpful advice.
As for "revealing too much," I honestly say that is not a factor. After our pack purchased a Best Track last year with electronics and computer, I believe every car/scouts should have the best possible chance, and make the computer do its job and settle the races by .00000001 of a second if possible (which I know is another topic elsewhere on the boards).
I did have a dad ask why I gave out so much information, and I responded because every kid wishes to have a fast car. I call it -- Leveling the Racing Field.
My sons are great sports and they understand my willingness to share information, which I tell them makes us better scouters and even better people.


Each day is a good race day!

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Re: Ethics Question

Post by BigSilver » Tue Jan 24, 2006 2:06 pm

Hello,
I am new to the site and have used a few tricks to help out on race day to see to it that no boy finishes last. Despite all the opportunities with multiple workshops I had a boy who showed up with a car that had been entirely boy built and frankly I was concerned it would not cross the finish line. I did not have time to "help" the boy and did not want to hurt his feelings as he was very proud of his creation. My solution was to run “special” cars in all den heats that were "fixed" to not cross the finish line. This ruse worked so well that I was approached by several concerned parents after each age groups race asking about the owner who’s car didn't cross the finish line. The car was given a made up name and in the confusion of a large pack no one figured out what had happened until I told the few parents that were concerned. The boy who I was worried about turned in a fair finish and was not the last place finisher. I do my best to see that all the boys have the opportunity to use the tools and learn the secrets but a few will never get the chance due to time constraints or other circumstances. I also distribute a selection of web site information and circulate a "PWD Builders Handbook" to each den emphasizing the craftsmanship, sportsmanship, and Scouting Spirit of the event.
BigSilver


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Re: Ethics Question

Post by oldfordsrule » Sun Mar 05, 2006 1:15 pm

By no means are you alone in this situation. I have struggled with the same issues. I give a Pack seminar and conduct a Den workshop each year. I also encourage the Dens to hold their own workshop. I have also 'derby adopted' a boy whose father is out of the picture. All of the advice and help I have given over the last few years has definitely raised the bar at our Pack. There was another 'pinehead' before me who started the trend and passed the torch to me, so my contribution would best be characterized as incremental. For the top 25% or so of cars, racing is extremely competitive at our Pack. Many races are determined by less than 1/2 of a car length, some by less than an inch. Our boys who attend district usually make the finals.

Last year as with each year I expected the boys to do more of their own work. My two plus friend finished 4-5-6. Others I helped were 1st and 3rd. Another year I helped someone who also won Pack (luckily one of my own later won 1st at District). As you have realized, helping others can sometimes be at the expense of your own. The other thing that concerns me is what if the boy we help does not do as well this time around? Conversely, what if he beats my kids?

Yes, it's fun for the boys to shoot for a win- but I need to remind myself when working with others to emphasize the whole experience rather than the outcome of the race.



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Re: Ethics Question

Post by Tinbendr » Mon Mar 06, 2006 10:30 pm

BigSilver wrote:Despite all the opportunities with multiple workshops I had a boy who showed up with a car that had been entirely boy built and frankly I was concerned it would not cross the finish line.BigSilver
The problem we had was that Dads were completely building the cars without the son's assistance. I even heard one father exclaim to his son, "Don't you touch that car!".

We had the same boys win every year.

Some boys were so dicouraged they wouldn't build a car because they knew they didn't have a chance.

Since then we require that the car be built at church during our Wednesday night time. Each group gives up one class period per month. We have a team of adults who volunteer to help the boys.

We had several Dads complain about not having the Father/son experience. We encouraged them to come to church on Wednesday night and work along side their child. Not one came to help.

The boys absolutely LOVE IT! They RUN to get to the workshop and 'work' on their car.

We don't have the pretty, sleek paint finishes, but it is all build, sanded, painted by them.

All the cars run much closer to each other and the racing is much more entertaining.

I know that everyone can't do this. I'm just sharing our experience.



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Re: Ethics Question

Post by Stephen's Dad » Sun Mar 12, 2006 8:23 pm

"I wanted to devise a wholesome, constructive activity that would foster a closer father-son relationship and promote craftsmanship and good sportsmanship through competition."

Don Murphy,
Founder of the Pinewood Derby in 1953
Manhattan Beach, CA Cub Scout Pack 280C

Later in life Don Murphy said of the same subject:

“I felt for a long time that Cub Scouts needed to participate in an active challenging game to promote good sportsmanship. Something the whole family would be involved in with their children.”

- Don Murphy, May 14, 2004

I'm guessing this isn't a Cub Scout Pack?
The problem we had was that Dads were completely building the cars without the son's assistance. I even heard one father exclaim to his son, "Don't you touch that car!".
These issues may speak to a disfunctional unit if it is a Scout Pack. The fathers might very well be at fault but the Leadership is also failing miserably.
Some boys were so discouraged they wouldn't build a car because they knew they didn't have a chance.
Rather than suppressing the father/son teams who do well, why not address the teams that are failing & offer to raise them up a notch?

Our goal is not to reduce the highest denominator but rather raise the common denominator by bringing ALL of them UP.

To this goal we've held 3 workshops (10 hours so far) this year with another by popular demand next weekend. I chose to recruit those dads who have a talent & put them to work side by side with me & the Boys parents who want/need the most help. It's working extremely well here so far & there are no hard feelings that I'm aware of. Families who don't need or want to participate in the workshops don't have to. They know they can if they so desire & that's good enough.
Since then we require that the car be built at church during our Wednesday night time. Each group gives up one class period per month. We have a team of adults who volunteer to help the boys.
I find the word "require" to be rather troubling. We "require" that the "family" is joining our Scout Pack. If a parent fails to show up at a workshop, the Boy can't be left there. The same applies to all Scouting events except Den Meetings (Tigers excluded - parent must stay) & Webelos camping where parental involvement is optional.

My own son just spent over 2 hours at our drill press this afternoon polishing his wheels. Not axles....just the wheels. Of the 4 he did, 2 passed tonights half hour dial indicator test. So he plans to do at least 2 more wheels in his quest for perfection. For the first time in "OUR" Scouting career, I sat & watched the entire wheel sanding operation doing little more than handing him slips of graded paper. I did set up the dial indicator for him but he used it.

Did I cross the line for "parental involvement" or would the church offer spend this much time waiting for a Boy to finish his wheels?

If our Pack Committee ever pulled a stunt like this they would be looking for a new Cubmaster because I'd be the first to leave.

I understand that it was probably with all good intentions that this unit acted as it did. However as long as there are some fathers abstaining from involvement then the core issues remain unchanged. We've merely taken the light off one issue & now it is focused elsewhere. In other words, we still have an equal number of unhappy campers. They're just not all visible through rose colored glasses.
Last edited by Stephen's Dad on Wed Mar 29, 2006 8:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.


The man who stands tallest is the man who bends to help a child.

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Re: Ethics Question

Post by mbb » Tue Mar 21, 2006 8:47 pm

I tell you, the more time you spend on the car together with a kid, the more you will enjoy it. I was really disapointed at our pack derby that 75% of the cars looked like they were made in 2 hrs. Some people just dont get it. Start months in advance, give plenty of time, 5 min here, 10 min there, and you and your son can build a great car together that has an great finish he can be proud of. And he can learn from you every step of the way. When you have the time, you can take the time to teach, and that is the whole point. I would be quite upset if I was forced to build the car in a day somewhere else. That is definitely the wrong approach.

Of course I do like the idea of an OPTIONAL second derby that is done that way, that could be fun.



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Re: Ethics Question

Post by BigDozer66 » Tue Mar 28, 2006 9:47 am

Stephen's Dad,
There is much wisdom in your post. :thumbup:

mbb,
My son and I spent several months this year getting everything done with only an hour here and 30 minutes there to work on it.

We have been told by the District leaders that there will be different rules next year and the rules will be handed out when the kits are. This is only about a month before the Pack races take place.

We have been told that some of the changes will be:
No drilled axle holes (Only the original slots in the block.)
No extended wheel bases.
Possibly No sanded wheels.

None of these were "against" the rules this year but some of the leaders thought it was an advantage to some who put more time than an hour or so into the project. :(


Hopefully they will not take the fun out of it by trying to make it to legalistic.

BigDozer66


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Re: Ethics Question

Post by mbb » Wed Mar 29, 2006 8:53 am

With the internet, sites like this one, books, videos, etc there is no shortage of information on how to build a competitively fast car.

I agree that tools that are innacessible to most people CNC machining, lathing, etc should not be allowed.

Unfortunately, a few people dont have the tools to even saw the car body or polish the axles in a hand drill, but everyone else shouldnt be penalized for that either.

Also unfortunate is the fact that some people are willing to spend $100 on tools to straighten/round axles, shave wheels to .001 runout, sort thru $20 worth of wheels (or much more) to find the best ones, and generally teach their kids a great deal when others wont spend a dime and give the kids little help at all.

Whoever wants to learn the most, put in the most work, and pay the most attention to detail deserves the right to win. Thats what it should be about, learning and applying the knowledge.



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Re: Ethics Question

Post by Stephen's Dad » Wed Mar 29, 2006 8:46 pm

I'm with you all the way on this mbb. We've spent all that & more. But we've also donated over 100 hours of our time (preparation & execution) to our Pack Workshops this year alone. And no tool that we own isn't available at the workshops so long as the user is properly supervised. For me to deny equal access to technology & tools might very well be an "unfair advantage". So we make equal access to all. It's up to them to choose to participate & then use the teachings properly.

A lot of parents stated "I had no idea....." once they learned what can be done to make these little cars fly. Of course they don't have to engage all of these practices. But the one's who did learned plenty & have the awards to show for it. At least those awards went to Scouts who worked for them rather than just getting lucky.

Luck is for lottery tickets. Skill is for accomplishment.


The man who stands tallest is the man who bends to help a child.

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Re: Ethics Question

Post by dstory » Sun Feb 10, 2008 6:08 pm

Stephen's dad and mbb got it right. In 10 years, the only true value of the race will be the quality time that parent/child spent together and the satisfaction of a job well done. It is so much more than about winning or losing.



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