NASCAR: Helping STEM Education Race Forward

One surprising (or not so surprising, it turns out) partner in the effort to promote STEM education in our nation is NASCAR. The famous National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing is bringing students from across the country to its speedway in Daytona to compete in mini-races of their own. Students have the opportunity to design and build their own cars for the grand prix competition while learning about engineering, math, and science. The goal of these initiatives is to get American youth to connect on a personal and academic level to STEM education through having fun and seeing how these skills apply in real life.

Having students pursue studies in STEM is not only a benefit for the individual but also for America: as seen in PAGE’s past report on the need for skilled labor in our manufacturing sector, skills in science, technology, engineering, and math represent an important investment in keeping our workforce competitive and relevant in the global labor market. Says Christine DeMichael, NASCAR senior manager of consumer marketing, “We are really focused on where our next engineers and team members will come from. Hands-on programs like this tie the science to something they can actually touch and feel and be a part of.” Likewise, NASCAR managing director of research and development Mike Fisher confirms “STEM education programs are critical to the future of our country and tie very well back into our sport.”

“Ten80 Education Student Racing Challenge: NASCAR STEM Initiative” is one such program, bringing over 100 students from six high schools and middle schools in the Concord, North Carolina area together to learn, test their skills, and have fun in an innovative way. Not only do many participants attribute their interest in math and science to the Student Racing Challenge, but they can also see the exciting career options where these skills are desired. Certainly, NASCAR and other American companies may be reaping the rewards of this investment in the future!

Posted by: Sophia Higgins

Sources: NASCAR, STEM Connector

Photo credit: Solar Sprint 2010 @ Argonne National Laboratory’s photostream courtesy of Flickr user Argonne National Laboratory

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3 Responses to NASCAR: Helping STEM Education Race Forward

  1. Reblogged this on fredricksd and commented:
    Amazing way to build the future more companies should do this type of education

  2. bobhhoffmann says:

    Many comments about STEM seem to reflect the ongoing traditions of “silo-thinking”, promoting favored “channels” of instruction, while knocking down other viable approaches for STEM. As a retired instructor of physics, math, and electronics technology at a regional technical college, I continue to be involved in ways that include ALL students in the STEM curriculum as preparation for their lives and careers after high school.

    These STEM goals need change in three directions, I believe, which extend across the grades and the disciplines. First, a systems approach should build the science content topics in the order of increasing complexity. This means that the high school courses need to be flipped to the natural evolutionary sequence of physics, chemistry, and then biology. Second, a clear definition is needed for each step on a ladder of “Basic Workplace Skill Sets” required for entry into the workplace at several occupational levels, beginning with a “Home and Consumer” baseline that matches the state science content standards for all high school graduates. And, finally, students need opportunities to explore various career and technical education (CTE) pathways throughout their high school years, so they can get a taste of where they might apply their abilities, interests, and learning in their productive years.

    In comparison to the many “magic pill” proposals, such a multi-dimensional framework of core content realignment, basic workplace skill steps, and application in career pathways could give us the comprehensive STEM curriculum reform we need for the 21st Century workplace.

  3. Ann says:

    NASCAR’s Ten80 program uses tenth scale radio controlled cars and kids own their own racing teams. It is in its fifth year as a national competition. Thanks for letting more people know about it. Write NASCAR and tell them how muh fun we are having learning science, technology, engineering and math with this program. Come to the finals in Charlotte on May 18th. It is part of the All Star celebration and a fun week-end!

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