IndyCar introduces program to hook team personnel
Applying lessons from the classroom and taking them to the racetrack will be the focus of "The Future of Fast," an INDYCAR-themed STEM education program beginning in 2013.
INDYCAR hopes to interest future engineers, mechanics and race fans by igniting their passion for math and science through the educational aspects of the sport. INDYCAR has formed a partnership for this initiative with Project Lead The Way, the nation's leading provider of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) curriculum, and Jostens, a top provider of products, programs and services for schools.
"Our sport is deeply rooted in science and engineering so it's important for us to create opportunities for students to see the connection between what they study and real-world situations. This is another way for us to reach youngsters to help ignite their interest in math and science, and it's a way for us to become more involved in the communities where we compete," said Mark Miles, CEO of Hulman & Company, the parent company of INDYCAR.
The "Future of Fast" at-track program is a hands-on racetrack program for eighth-grade students designed to accelerate learning beyond the walls of the classroom and put students on the fast track. The curriculum is created specifically for INDYCAR by Project Lead The Way and will feature different learning pods related directly to various aspects of Indy car racing. Project Lead The Way has been working hand-in-hand with INDYCAR to create the program, which will culminate in an education day held at INDYCAR race venues. In addition to developing the curriculum, Project Lead The Way also will train the volunteer educators in each race market.
Students participating in The Future of Fast program will spend a day at the racetrack and rotate through each of the learning pods . After completing the activities within each pod, students will then apply that knowledge in a virtual environment.
"When the team at INDYCAR contacted us to work with them on this project, we were immediately on board as it is a win-win situation for all involved," said Vince Bertram, president and CEO of Project Lead The Way. "The technology, speed and excitement of INDYCAR racing provides the perfect backdrop for us to develop curriculum that will engage and excite young students and encourage them to pursue their interests in STEM."
In its initial year, the program will reach thousands of students among six different race markets with a short-term goal of demonstrating that science can be fun and a long-term goal of creating future engineers, scientists, mechanics and race fans. In future years, the program will expand into more INDYCAR race markets throughout the United States.
In 2013, events will take place at the Indianapolis 500 as well as Detroit (June 1-2), Fort Worth, Texas (June 8); Baltimore (Sept. 1); Houston (Oct. 5-6) and Fontana, Calif. (Oct. 19). Project Lead The Way and Jostens will reach out to schools in these markets to encourage them to attend. Through the support of the INDYCAR community, students will receive the hands-on learning experience at no expense to them or their schools.
"This real, relevant, kinesthetic and interactive education program can be a catalyst for thousands of students' understanding that STEM can be exciting, rewarding and fun to learn," said Lisa Spain, Jostens' director of Customer Experience. "STEM education is critical for the next generation's success both economically and culturally, and Jostens is proud to present this program in collaboration with INDYCAR and Project Lead The Way."