Session: Construction + Community, Winter 2022

Builders: 12 students

Materials: plywood, go-kart frame, paint, insulation foam, plaster strips, and many random accessories!

Description: In our winter session of Construction + Community, our students built the wooden exterior frame for the inaugural Girls Garage derby car! We were invited to build and race a car in the legendary SFMOMA Soapbox Derby, which is back after a 40+ year hiatus! Instructors Emily Pilloton-Lam and Augusta Sitney purchased a repurposed go-kart frame, and Augusta quickly swapped her trademark beanie for her (figurative) mechanic hat as she set about removing the engine, rebuilding the brakes and steering mechanisms, and welding steel brackets. Our students made cardboard templates for each side of the derby car, then cut out the respective plywood pieces. For the claw, our team drastically scaled up a PDF plan of a toy excavator, which we then printed at full scales and traced onto insulation foam and wood to build into layers. Finally, we added joints onto each of the arm points and installed a rod that raises the claw, just like an actual excavator!

In true Girls Garage fashion, “Red Rita the Feminist Excavator” is outfitted with a stuffed uterus, bumper stickers, rearview mirror, Rosie the Riveter bobblehead, and a smoke machine for the exhaust. The plywood frame was painted in Girls Garage trademark red, and the logo was painted on the arm.