NASCAR coming to a school near you maybe yours!
Building a race car takes a lot of geometry and physics. The car must go 200 laps. It must race at speeds that can top 200 miles per hour.
The cars need strength and speed. They must be well built.
In a nod to the often overlooked science behind racing, NASCAR will promote "STEM" inside classrooms and out. STEM is the buzzword for science, technology, engineering and math.
The NASCAR Acceleration Nation initiative focuses on the three D's of speed. That's downforce, drafting and drag. The racing organization is providing instructional materials for teachers.
The effort is a way for NASCAR to show the fun side of engineering and math. And to encourage fans to view NASCAR in a new way, said Brent Dewar. He is the racing organization's chief operating officer.
"A lot of people see cars racing and they love the sport for the sporting element of cars winning, and racing and passing," Dewar said. "Behind all of that is pure science. It's the horse power. And it's drag and it's aerodynamics."
Driver Carl Edwards was a substitute teacher in Columbia, Missouri. That was long before he became known for his back-flip off cars after winning races. For him, one of the biggest teaching challenges was keeping students' attention. He hopes that bringing race cars into science discussions will spark interest.
Edwards said that with every lap, scientific data is involved. The science includes tracking the probability of crashing at different parts of the race. Or determining the amount of fuel used by the engine at different speeds. He said he still uses the science and math he learned in school.
Today, Edwards wishes he'd learned even more.
As part of the initiative, NASCAR partnered with publisher Scholastic Corp. Fact sheets and quizzes have been developed. They are primarily for middle school teachers.
About 7,400 kits will be mailed to teachers initially. Instructors can also go online to download the material. They can see online demonstrations. The effort includes a website for fans. It has math and other games.
There also is an interactive play area that children and teens can visit on race days.
Critical thinking challenge: How does NASCAR benefit from this initiative?
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