San Diego Students Compete in STEAM-Focused Soap Box Derby in Little Italy

Students from Washington Elementary School competed in the VanGo! derby, designed to focus on their STEAM skills -- Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics

The streets of Little Italy resembled a racetrack Saturday for the third annual VanGo! Soap Box Derby and STEAM Festival.

Drivers behind the wheels of 16 soap box cars competed in the derby, zipping down State Street. Thirteen of the derby cars were sponsored by local businesses.

“The idea behind the Soap Box Derby is simple,” said parent volunteer and event organizer William Sieve. “It’s to get kids excited about education.”

Students from Washington Elementary School who competed in Saturday’s race are part of the school’s car club that meets on Wednesday afternoons.

The students worked with a local designer who helped them design and decorate the cars. 

“It actually combines all assets of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics),” Sieve said. “From the time they sit down and engineer the car and figure out what [they] are going to put on the car, to the art side to how [they] are going to decorate it,” he said.

Second-grader Zak Adam Stone said he had a lot of fun partaking in the race, even though he didn’t win.

“So I’m the car, and all I’m thinking is ‘have fun, have fun, have fun,’ “ Stone said. “That’s the three rules to what racing takes.”

Stone raced the soap box car sponsored by Greater Good Realty. Stone said this project has made him want to go into a science-related field when he’s older.

“I’m learning about dinosaurs and cars and how they work,” he said. 

The VanGo! Soap Box Derby and STEAM Festival was part of a fundraising effort to raise $40,000 for Washington Elementary School’s STEAM-related activities for the 2018 school year. If you’d like to donate, visit this website.

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