Virtual Powder Puff Derby

The O’Day family hosted and filmed the 2020 Scripps Ranch Girl Scouts Powder Puff Derby at their home. (photo by Stacey Griffin)

Virtual Powder Puff Derby

Girl Scouts flexed their STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) muscles during their annual Powder Puff Derby, a popular event that has been a tradition in Scripps Ranch for more than 15 years.

The event took place May 2 this year – virtually for the first time. Volunteers Ben and Kelly O’Day and their Girl Scout daughters Riley, Marley and Landry hosted and filmed the event at their Scripps Ranch home. The race portion took place in their backyard, with participants “attending” live through Zoom and YouTube. The design contest was held the day before, with people stopping by (wearing masks and practicing social distancing) to vote for their favorite pinewood derby cars on display on the O’Day’s driveway.

“My favorite part is seeing Girl Scouts and parents work together at our workshops,” Ben O’Day said. “This includes coming up with a design, learning how to use tools and learning about the physics of making a car fast. Each Girl Scout takes a basic block of wood and turns it into a design of their own that they can keep forever. The creativity of these girls is simply amazing.”

More than 150 Girl Scouts and family members entered the derby. The event was covered by ABC 10News San Diego.

Derby participants competed for trophies recognizing speed and best designs for various themes: STEM (for example, cars programmed with led lights), international (Australian wildfires, London landmarks), animal theme (birds, dogs, cats and even a koala), food lookalikes (sushi rolls, ice cream sandwich, enchiladas), Girl Scouts theme (cookies, camping) or most creative (Tesla Cybertruck, NASA space shuttle).

As a result of a Bronze Award project previously earned by Riley O’Day’s Girl Scout Troop 3077, led by Kelly O’Day, the derby has expanded to include stronger girl leadership elements and family participation.

“I like this event because it is a lot of fun and helps all Girl Scouts learn something new about engineering. It also can help us learn leadership because Girl Scouts help run this event each year,” Riley said.

The O’Day family has organized the derby and workshops for the past three years, building on the outstanding efforts of past volunteers. Since its inception, the Powder Puff Derby has grown to become a multi-faceted experience that includes workshops teaching scouts and parents how to cut, shape and complete the cars. Future engineers also practice woodworking skills, discover how to use tools, and apply principles of physics to optimize their vehicles’ performance – for example, by adding weights and sanding wheels and axles.

Girl Scouts is the best place for girls (#BestPlace4girls), preparing them for a lifetime of leadership. Virtual troops are forming now. All girls in grades K-12 and adult volunteers are welcome to join Girl Scouts at any time. Registration is now open for summer camp, recently reimagined as an online experience. Opportunities for the whole family to enjoy at home include the “In-Tents” Night Out Campout on Friday, June 5. Find details at, or contact Scripps Ranch Recruitment Specialist Andrea Rentería at (619) 610-0774 or

One pinewood racer with a Sponge Bob Square Pants theme awaited its turn amongst other colorful entries. (photo by Stacey Griffin)
This banana split race car looked good enough to eat. (photo by Stacey Griffin)
Highly detailed racers were ready for their heat at the May 2 event. (photo by Stacey Griffin)
Two Girl Scouts in the O’Day family line up cars for the next heat. (photo by Stacey Griffin)
Parents of local Girl Scouts vote for their favorite pinewood cars on display on the O’Day’s driveway. (photo by Stacey Griffin)
The California Roll was one of many creative entries.
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