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PhillyVoice: West Philly's The Workshop School joins this year’s Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby

May 19, 2017
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Given the holistic and hands-on approach that the school takes with its students, pairing The Workshop School with the Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby is only natural. - Lowell Brown/NKCDC/for PhillyVoice

The school’s derby team is crafting two entries – a wooden go-kart and a welded steel mobile

Every year, the Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby welcomes a crew of visionaries to create people-powered vehicles that run on both ingenuity and creativity. This year, the parade of repurposed bikes and fantastic floats is opening up to a younger demographic. It's usually run by older folks.

Back in February, the derby’s sponsor, Philadelphia Federal Credit Union, put out an open call for a city-based, teacher-led team of students to throw their hats into the sculpture-building ring. After reviewing applications from multiple schools around town, West Philadelphia’s The Workshop School won the $4,000 seed money, along with complimentary derby entry fees.

Situated in the Spruce Hill section of West Philly, The Workshop School takes a unique approach when it comes to educating their 9th through 12th graders. Instead of tackling staid individual subjects like science, math and history, students there focus on project-based learning.

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The Workshop School students at work. - Lowell Brown/NKCDC/for PhillyVoice

These interdisciplinary endeavors aim to keep kids interested using hands-on tactics rather than typical classroom learning. The Workshop School’s past projects have included "out there" subjects ranging from figuring out how to send ice cream into space to building seaworthy vessels out of cardboard and coming up with a food truck concepts that cater to the school’s neighborhood clientele.

Given the holistic and hands-on approach that the school takes with its students, pairing The Workshop School with the Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby is only natural. The school’s derby team consists of 30 students who have spent the past few months crafting two entries – a wooden go-kart and a welded steel mobile. The team of 9th graders combined practical aspects of the school’s engineering and automotive programs along with some financial education via budgeting help from the good folks at PFCU.

To see what the crafty kids of The Workshop School have created for this year’s Kinetic Sculpture Derby, head to the intersection of Trenton Avenue and Norris Street this Saturday, May 20. The Derby kicks off at noon and the award ceremony happens at 4 pm.

–  By Caroline Russock PhillyVoice Contributor

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