Rolling Science Project

“Rolling Science Project”: Let’s Grow STEAMx Prepares for Its Third Annual River City Soap Box Derby This Summer

By Brett Buckner

From Columbus and the Valley, June 2019

Jaylen Taylor is a “total car fanatic,” a shocking confession given he’s only 10 years old.

But Jaylen isn’t just a passenger to his obsession. He’s climbed into the driver’s seat of his father’s Camaro. His legs barely reaching the pedals as he cruises around an empty parking lot on the weekends.

“He’s not shy about getting behind the wheel,” said Jaylen’s father, Delontaye. “It’s just something he was born to do.”

Last year when Jaylen overheard Robbie Branscomb, president and CEO of the Columbus-based Let’s Grow STEAMx, talking about a soap box derby the organization was hosting, the decision to race was a foregone conclusion.

“I knew I had to do it,” Jaylen said. “I didn’t really know what soap box racing was at first, but I knew I was gonna race.”

Jaylen signed up to race not knowing he was joining the long—if scattered—history of soap box racing in Columbus that dates back to the 1940s. It’s a tradition that Robbie Branscomb and the Let’s Grow STEAMx organizers revitalized three years ago after it faded away in the early 1990s.

“So many people who are now working in fields of engineering and technology, had an affiliation with these derby races when they were growing up,’ Branscomb said. “It’s definitely something that carries on to the next generation. We just wanted to help make that happen.”

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