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  • Writer's pictureJenni Beth

Cub Scout Pinewood Derby

The cub scout pinewood derby is tomorrow, and I wanted to write a quick post with pictures of the cars I have made the past couple years.

Some people make their derby cars to win the race. I apparently care more about how cool they look than particularly how fast they can go. This is the third year I have been a cub scout leader, but only the second year I have made a car to enter in the derby.

My car from last year is "Lewis and Clark" going down the Columbia River. We had just finished learning about Lewis and Clark in our homeschool, so I decided it would be a fun make. I carved the car with our scroll saw and then hollowed it out with our dremmel tool. (To be perfectly honest, my husband, Peter, did most of the hollowing out for me). I made the figures out of a dowel rod shaped with a dremmel tool. Because I wanted a natural finish, I used tongue oil on the outside. My car did all right last year. It didn't win or anything, but it wasn't the slowest car either, and everyone really liked it :)

This year, I decided to make my car a "Caterpillar Car," modeled after the Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. Again, I used the scroll saw and dremmel tool to do most of the shaping. And I painted it with acrylic paint, sealing it with a clear spraypaint sealant. I can't wait to see how it does in the race tomorrow! Maybe I'll post an update then :)

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Why "Sewing and the Trivium"

The Story

Classical educators like to divide education into developmental stages called the Trivium. These are called "Grammar," "Logic," and "Rhetoric." Grammar refers to the first steps of learning anything: learning the vocabulary of the subject being studied and memorizing facts about that vocabulary. Classically speaking, this corresponds to the elementary years of learning - years when students never seem to grow tired of astounding the adults around them with fact after fact about things they are interested in. Have you experienced talking to a six year old who is really into dinosaurs? enough said...

Adults also begin learning with the grammar of a subject. Each subject has its own unique terminology and facts that need to be mastered before one can explore the more complicated applications of that subject. Sewing is no different. What is a french seam? What kinds of knit fabrics are better for different applications? What is a dolman sleeve or a raglan top? These are grammar queries.

In classical education, logic refers to the action of logically processing the grammar facts students have learned, or are learning. The student who is particularly suited to this type of thought is the middle-school scholar - the student who wants to argue his or her way through the world and "be right" about all the things. This pattern of thought includes bringing different ideas together, comparing and contrasting them, analyzing what an authority figure says about an argument, and deciding whether different arguments are consistent with each other. In the sewing world, logical questions include things like, "How is knit fabric different than woven fabric?" and "Why does this pattern ask for a particular fabric type?" as well as tasks such as mashing two patterns together or changing the sleeve/length/placket from how the pattern was designed.

The final part of the classical trivium, rhetoric, is when a student makes an argument of his or her own by developing a "thesis" or main point and then laying it out for someone else in writing or speech. Typically, students are ready for formal rhetoric in their high school years - years that they are very concerned about what they look like to other people and gain an interest in learning to craft a message in a way that will be most effective for their purposes. Examples of rhetoric in sewing would be fully-formed tutorials or sew-alongs - or even the writing of a blog post itself. Anything that is explaining previously thought-out/tried-out projects can count as rhetoric. 

My goal on this blog is to lay out my sews and thoughts using this framework. And that is why I chose this title.

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