NASCAR coming to a school near you  maybe yours! NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Matt Kenseth celebrates with a burn out after winning race one of the Budweiser Duel at Daytona International Speedway in 2014 (Reuters / Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports)
NASCAR coming to a school near you maybe yours!
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It takes a lot of geometry and physics to get a race car to go 200 laps at speeds that can top 200 mph.

In a nod to the often overlooked science behind races like the Daytona 500, NASCAR is announcing a years-long commitment to promote "STEM" the buzzword for science, technology, engineering and math inside classrooms and out.

The NASCAR Acceleration Nation initiative focuses on the three D's of speed downforce, drafting and drag and includes 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, NASCAR'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, 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, and he hopes that bringing race cars into science discussions will spark interest.

Edwards said that with every lap, scientific data is involved, from tracking the statistical probability of crashing at different parts of the race to the amount of fuel used by the engine at different speeds in various throttle positions. Although he said he still uses the science and math he learned in school, Edwards wishes he'd learned even more.

"You can take any part of the car and talk about how it was engineered and why it's designed the way it is to interact with the rest of the race car, and there's a physics or a math or a science lesson in any of that," he said.

As part of the initiative, NASCAR partnered with publisher Scholastic Corp. to develop fact sheets and quizzes focused on aerodynamics, primarily for middle school teachers. An example of topics addressed: Why can race cars in a drafting formation lined up behind each other go faster than cars moving solo? (The answer is that the air acts like a vacuum and sucks trailing cars forward; leading cars also get a boost because the trailing cars push high-pressure air over the leading cars' spoilers.)

About 7,400 kits will be mailed to teachers initially, but teachers can also go online to download the material and view online demonstrations. The effort includes a website for fans with math and other games and an interactive play area that children and teens can visit on race days.

NASCAR's effort is part of a larger push in both the private and public sector to promote STEM out of concern for the nation's global competitiveness and because of strong projected job growth in those fields.

Michael Lynch, a NASCAR executive involved with the effort, said NASCAR is tracking how students do on a quiz before and after using the material, so they can see what works and what needs to be changed.

NASCAR wouldn't say how much it's spending on the STEM-related activities.

Critical thinking challenge: How does NASCAR benefit from this initiative?

SPONSOR LINK: Learn How Bayer Is Supporting STEM Education in Schools

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COMMENTS (13)
  • devontaf-DiB
    2/25/2015 - 08:34 a.m.

    This article is interesting because its something you can relate to. Also because I like NASCAR. Hopefully it come to our school next. I loved this article.

  • sebastiant-DiB
    2/25/2015 - 09:58 a.m.

    It has talk of the Daytona 500 race in which they talk on how did the race had result on the race on how it was the action and talk on how it could be a concern on some people.

  • SantanaAntonio-DiB
    2/27/2015 - 11:27 a.m.

    So in this article its about how Nascar might be coming to a school near you. what they mean by this is that you how that nascar is basically all of it is physics you might think to yourself why well ill answer that its because the speed a Nascar Driver is going its about 200 miles per hour and they have to maintain this velocity for about 136 laps which at points can get extremely dizzy and not fun at times.

  • oscarp-DiB
    2/27/2015 - 01:45 p.m.

    I like this because i like sepeed an cars It takes a lot of geometry and physics to get a race car to go 200 laps at speeds that can top 200 mph

  • brandonjaclin
    2/28/2015 - 09:13 a.m.

    NASCAR benefits from this initiative because when students do science work for them they can apply it to their racing. Also they can spend more time driving

  • KAnthony-Cas
    3/02/2015 - 08:20 a.m.

    I Think this would be awesome. I wish are school could do this. It would help me learn better. I don't know how many other people would like it.

  • Jefferys-Lam
    3/02/2015 - 10:53 a.m.

    I think that's great. Bringing NASCAR into our schools would get a lot of kinds attention. Instead of having them just sit in there chairs a do nothing just work nothing really fun.

  • tyrekb-Che
    3/02/2015 - 01:43 p.m.

    It is good to see that there will be a NASCAR is coming near us so some people can enjoy and take time off and go see cars racing by a school near us.

  • kylee-Koc
    3/03/2015 - 06:53 p.m.

    I think this is a great idea by NASCAR to do. They send them to schools by the race tracks, and then have the students go watch the cars and how they work in real life. As a NASCAR fan I have always been interested in the cars. How the engineers can get them to grip and slide how the driver wants it and then have enough power to outrun everyone else. There is a lot going on with the cars and not a lot of people know that. Especially people who are not fans of the sport. This is a great way to show kids about the sport and help them in school and maybe the future.

  • Ashleypatt
    3/05/2015 - 01:51 p.m.

    I think this is a very good thing to do. To have them come into our schools and talk about this. This would probably make people more interesting for them to watch. Its very boring to watch on tv but to go watch it live I think that would be really cool. They could change many minds if they come to our school.

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