Arduino Technology
This Second-Grader Built an Arduino-Embedded Pinewood Derby Car
Emmett’s PineDuino derby car houses an Arduino Nano board, accelerometer sensor and LED display that displays data as the car moves.
Emmett’s “PineDuino,” Pinewood Derby car, houses an Arduino Nano board, accelerometer sensor, and LED display that shows data as the car moves.

Makers come in many different forms, nationalities, and ages. The same can be said about the many projects that those Makers design and build, which range from robotics to automated homes and everything in between.

One of the more interesting projects I came across at the Westport Maker Faire was from a young man named Emmett White. He is a second grader who designed his own Pinewood Derby car that uses an Arduino Nano to garner information as the car travels.

Emmett building the PineDuino using a fresh coat of paint and bread-boarding the car’s on-board electronics.
Emmett adding a fresh coat of paint to his Pinewood Derby car and bread-boarding the car’s on-board electronics.

Emmett used an Arduino Nano to crunch data gathered from an accelerometer sensor attached to his Pinewood Derby car. As the car travels, the resulting data is displayed on a micro LCD. He calls this creation the PineDuino.

I recently had the opportunity to ask Emmett (with the help of his dad, Richard) a few questions about his interest in electronics, the inspiration behind the PineDuino and what the future may hold for the young Maker.

Apparently, Emmett’s interest in electronics started when he was young.

The Arduino, accelerometer, and LCD display fit neatly inside the slot of the PineDuino racer.
The Arduino, accelerometer, and LCD display fit neatly inside the slot of the PineDuino racer.

Cabe Atwell: Did you always have an interest in electronics? How did you get the idea to combine an Arduino with a Pinewood Derby car?

Emmett: Yes, my grandparents sent me a Snap Circuits electronics kit when I was in preschool. The next year I gave a presentation to my sister Catherine’s fourth grade class on some simple circuits. My dad and Catherine took an Arduino class at the Trumbull Library. I think that’s when I first thought of doing something with the Arduino.

CA: Soldering is a pretty tough skill to learn (even some adults have trouble). How long did it take to get all of the electronics put together?

E: Actually, the soldering was easy. The harder part was wiring all of the pieces together, small enough to fit on my Pinewood Derby car.

CA: What other projects are you putting together and could you share them as well or are they top secret?

E: My friend Ethan and I are working on a rocket with an accelerometer and an altimeter using a Light Blue Bean (a low energy Bluetooth Arduino microcontroller). We also want to put a camera on board. My dad says we have to test with a Stomp Rocket first.

It’s clear to see that Emmett is just getting started in his Maker ventures and will undoubtedly go on to design other amazing projects in the future!

westport mini maker faire

1 thought on “This Second-Grader Built an Arduino-Embedded Pinewood Derby Car

  1. I think the Snap Circuit is the best gift for kid that show interest in building thing other then Legos. I got the 750 student teacher edition for my son for his 3rd Christmas, by the age of 4 he new most of the components and could build most of the basic set from memory and recite the components for basic circuits. He calls it his learning game. He about to turn 6 and love watching me put Arduino project together and want to help.

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