STEM Scouts Have a Blast in the Woodshop!

Posted in Michael's Woodshop

December 4, 2022 by NCAC STEM

Have you ever heard of BlastCars?

They have been around for years as Scouts BSA programs, and sometimes dubbed the “older kid Pinewood Derby Cars”. The real difference? Their dimensions are a bit larger and above all they are powered by a C02 cartridge! Today, middle STEM Scouts have a 4 meeting module, where they experiment with building and racing Blastcars! Youth discover what friction is and how it affects the performance of a car, and learn about propulsion, acceleration and deceleration, and rocket-powered vehicles.

Lab Manager Ms. Pekarik (of paired Elementary Lab 9941) assists a scout.

To do all this, the scouts need to build cars – many, and each with variables tweaked. Sure, they could build cars with hand-tools, but NCAC’s STEM Lab 991 was lucky enough to build their cars under the expertise of Michael’s Woodshop volunteers!

Visit to Michael’s Woodshop

Michael’s Woodshop is a volunteer run woodshop for scouts at Camp Snyder in Haymarket, VA. Over the last 5 years, Michael’s Woodshop has assisted 250+ Bears in completing Baloo the Builder50+ Woodwork Merit Badges, and 1000+ Pinewood Derby Cars!

On October 30, seven STEM Scouts from Lab 991 visited Michael’s Woodshop at Camp Snyder for a Blastcar Build Day! Mr. Dave Schneeman, Woodshop Steward, led the group through a safety briefing, followed by stations to cut the cars according to the scouts’ designs, and sand the cars for finer finish.

After 1000+ Pinewood Derby cars, Michael’s Woodshop has perfected a build process. The Blastcar build was only slightly different. Scouts had to ensure that designs do not intersect with the drilled holes for the Co2 cartridges. Additionally, while PWD cars’ starting gates release at the front of each car, Blastcars are lined up against the rear (where the cartridges are!)

The Woodshop machinery as well as Mr. Dave’s expertise made for an incredible experience. Sure, scouts could design blast cars with hand tools. In fact, 2 weeks before the scouts’ woodshop visit, they practiced using hand tools. This juxtaposition led to a greater appreciation of the Woodshop opportunity, and the professional cars they got to design!

Lab Manager Mr. Scheina hands out blastcar kits.

Lab Manager of STEM Lab 991, Jon Scheina shared, “Building the cars at the woodshop was awesome. Every Scout I asked said that this activity was the highlight of the module. In the future, any labs that are fortunate enough to have access to a professional woodshop should absolutely use it to build their cars–both for the experience and for the opportunity to build more precise, well-functioning cars.”

Join the Woodshop Team

All of the activities in Michael’s Woodshop are designed and supervised by a dedicated group of volunteers. There are volunteer roles available for experienced woodworkers, and both adult and youth assistants. For more information about becoming a volunteer, please see Join the Woodshop Team or email us for additional information.

For more information about the merit badge classes, shop capabilities, upcoming events or reserving the shop, please visit the Michael’s Woodshop webpage. If you have questions or would like additional information, please email us at

Important Thank Yous

Special thanks to:

  • Justin Youtz (T501) and Bruce Donlin (T1853) for sharing Blastcar kits (and tricks) with NCAC’s STEM Labs!
  • Dave Schneeman (Michael’s Woodshop Steward) for volunteering to lead the shop session
  • Jon Scheina, Mark Gray, Burt Wagner, Stacy Pekarik (Lab 991 Lab Manager and Associate Lab Leaders) for leading the inaugural Blastcars module!