V8 Piston Model Building - What is it?

By Jonathan Summers, Celsius and Beyond's V8 Piston Model Building instructor

I am an automotive journalist and historian. I am English by birth and a Roman historian by training.  I burn with an all-consuming passion for cars, engines and the freedom of the open road. Since my time as a tour guide, I loved the challenge of entertaining and informing enthusiastic young minds, be they my students at Stanford University, where I taught for the last seven years, or my own young son.  I am excited to be leading the Build a V8 Engine Model camp.  

Today, autonomy and electrification are revolutionizing cars, and with its mobility, our communities and our society. The engineering principle which powered the industrial revolution – steam engines, ships, cars, and aeroplanes – is disappearing. No longer will mobility be enabled by fire and controlled explosions, harnessed by a piston rising and falling in a cylinder.

Taking a STEM to STEAM approach, in our V8 Piston Model Building summer camp, we will examine the history and culture of the piston engine. It should soon be clear to the kids that perhaps more than any other innovation, the piston engine made the modern world. 

Applications as diverse as lawnmower engines, 18 wheeler big rigs and the container ships we see coming in and out of the Bay Area will be compared using art, historical anecdotes, short film clips and demonstrations of real engines.

Key in fixing the engineering principles in young minds at our science summer camp is the activity of building your own V8 engine like those used in many of the great and fun American Automobiles. Our model faithfully replicates the rotating assembly of a V8, allowing our campers’ small fingers to turn the crankshaft, and see for themselves the poetry of the pistons rising and falling. Children will construct the model from wood, plastic, and coat hanger wire. It will provide a tangible reference point for the camp while giving campers the chance to develop carpentry, fabrication skills and a new understanding for an otherwise abstract concept.

I am looking forward to meeting and inspiring future engineers at our Celsius and Beyond’s science summer camp Bay Area! 

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