Scouts-L Mail Archive for February of 1999: Pinewood Derby/ Stearns Method
Pinewood Derby/ Stearns Method
Mon, 22 Feb 1999 08:38:47 -0700
Mary Lee wrote about her first experience with the Stearns Method, which
was positive. We have used a modified Stearns Method (we shorten the
number of final races if a clear winner has been determined) for 3 years
now. Last year, however, we were challenged by one of the parents. His
son, in first place going into the final heats, ended up in 2nd place as
his final place. The Parents, goofed and prematurely told their son he
had won just before the finals, setting the Scout up for disappointment.
It was clear they had not sufficiently read the race procedure.
We use a 4 lane "sensed" race rather than a timer, as this is what we
could afford. The District race is a "timed" race by Rank. We have, for
as long as I've been with the Pack, sent the top 3 speed cars, top two
Show Cars and a Tiger car (we run them separately).
The District Race bore out our "ranking" at the Pack level. This young
man did indeed have a slightly slower car.
Has anyone else had any problems running the Stearns Method? We explored
running the races by Rank, to be able to then send one Tiger, one Wolf,
One Bear and one Webelos, but couldn't see how we could determine that
without purchasing a timer. The sensor is only 2 years old and far less
expensive to build and use than a timer. We are a small to moderate size
Pack of about 25 boys at this time. The majority of the Committee who has
run the STearns race likes the fact that it isn't readily apparent until
the end who is winning, and that all boys get to race a lot. The race is
more exciting for longer. Running a long race also allows the judges
sufficient time to "categorize" all the awards for the non-placing cars
(we give certificates to all boys, commenting on some positive aspect of
We took into consideration this parent's complaint, but can't see how we
can conform to the District race at this time, and frankly, the majority
of us may not want to. We run a good race with minor "high tech" stuff.
The down side perhaps, is that the level of competativeness has gone up
over the last 3 years.
Jan Mussler, Webelos Den Leader, Pack 170
Troop Committee Chair, Troop 170
Arapahoe District, Longs Peak Council