KV Racing Technology Hosts STEM Tours
KV Racing Technology hosted three groups of high school students studying physics at Decatur Central High School as part of the team's science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) outreach program. The tours focused on the importance of STEM in the racing industry and in particular how those areas affect the performance of an Indy Car.
STEM Tour GroupSeveral members of the team including three of the team's engineers, spent time interacting with the students as they rotated through the different stations set up for the tour. The stations included explained aerodynamics, fuel, the gearbox, shocks, the chassis, the cockpit and the engine as well as the engineering aspect of racing. Team members encouraged students to ask questions and help with demonstrations by awarding trading cards depicting parts of the car. The student with the highest engagement level and having earned the most cards received a small prize to reward their efforts.
"We were excited to have the physics students visit the KV Racing Technology race shop to learn about how science is instrumental to success in our sport," said Eric Cowdin, the team's Technical Director. "We were able to help educate them on the importance of science, technology, engineering and math in a fun environment that allowed them to see up-close a product that was produced through a significant use of STEM. Hopefully this experience will help motivate them to pursue a higher level of STEM education and to possibly explore related career opportunities."
Firestone Racing sent senior compounder Dennis Boley to educate the students about the physics surrounding tires in a racing environment as it compares to a typical street car tire. "Firestone Racing has always been a strong supporter of community activities, especially when given the opportunity to instill an interest in science and technology in younger generations," Boley said. "With the STEM tours graciously provided by KV Racing Technology, the high school students were able to take lessons from the classroom and see how they can be applied to real-world situations. We believe there is no better learning tool. Combined with the excitement of the IZOD IndyCar Series, I'm sure the students had an eye-opening experience and I hope we inspired some future race team or tire engineers."
Physics teacher Amy Hayworth was a driving force behind the tours. "I wanted to visit and work with KV Racing to try and infuse the community into our learning and classroom," she said. "It is important for our students to be able to 'see' where the science is in the 'real-world' and why it is important. I also wanted them to see what opportunities are available out there for students to be involved in the community and science, not necessarily a 'scientist in a lab' type idea. They were very excited with all the 'hands-on' tasks and ideas. The more they 'do' the more they 'learn.'"
STEM education is a key component of the Nuclear Clean Air Energy IndyCar sponsorship. Sponsor members, Entergy, AREVA, Inc., and NEI are working diligently through their support of the Nuclear Clean Air Energy national education initiative to raise the visibility of STEM education as a much needed skill set that will better equip our children and country for the future. The #78 Nuclear Clean Air Energy IndyCar brings national and global visibility to the initiative. Other elements of the campaign's educational effort include Power Path, a curriculum for middle and high schools; promotion of educational events; and relationships with national organizations that promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics to students with a focus on careers in the sciences.
KVRT plans additional STEM outreach events throughout 2013 at their Indianapolis shop and at various educational institutions across the country in conjunction with other race-weekend activities. While the team will kick off the 2013 IZOD IndyCar season next month in St. Petersburg, FL, their outreach program will make its first stop at an event at the University of Florida on March 19th.