In the world of stock car racing, science, engineering, technology and math (STEM) is prevalent everywhere. From set up to tear down these four core competences are critical to success on track. Many of Richard Childress Racing’s engineers, technicians and crewman have spent years learning STEM concepts of racing and are considered experts in their field of study.
In partnership with Dow, RCR has helped developed the first of a series of STEM learning modules now available to middle school students ages 11 – 14. Focused on the importance of STEM in stock car racing, “The Speed of STEM” curriculum is available educators worldwide.
The collaboration for a new STEM program with an emphasis on stock car racing began nearly 14 months ago spearheaded by RCR’s Director of Competition, Dr. Eric Warren. Dr. Warren looped in personnel from two higher learning institutions at North Carolina State University and Mount Airy High School. Together the group produced modules aimed to develop an interest in STEM during formative middle school years.
“Physics and the concepts of mass, energy and motion are essential parts of racing,” Dr. Warren said. “There is no better environment than this to learn about things that move and create energy. RCR and Dow have a common desire to guide young people towards STEM careers.”
Here’s a look at a few of the modules:
In lesson one, an explanation of Newton’s Second Law, demonstrates a crash test with two wooden cars. Newton’s second law states that force is directly proportional to mass and acceleration. That is, if the same force is applied to objects of different mass, the object with smaller mass (or the lighter object) will undergo greater acceleration.
This activity demonstrates how light-weighting impacts racing and how to use physics to understand the result. Students get to be the race car driver and will observe Newton’s second law by racing cars.
The first of three modules focusing on the physics of racing, with modules on math and chemistry to come soon. Plans for the modules to be applied in classrooms worldwide are in the works with Dow STEM Ambassadors. Educators can access the content by visiting Dow.com and downloading the teacher/student workbooks.