DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The high-speed thrill of NASCAR racing will take STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) professional development to the high banks of Daytona International Speedway. That’s when 24 educators from six schools in an around Daytona Beach come together and engage in turns, spins and pit stops to improve their knowledge about STEM disciplines and best practices, using the world of auto racing as their classroom.
Driving SCIENCE is a four-day professional development institute sponsored by Daytona International Speedway, DuPont Motorsports and Hands-On Science Partnership. The curriculum, developed in Clemson University’s College of Engineering and Science with a grant from the DuPont Office of Education, is designed to strengthen content knowledge in STEM disciplines, model best practices for student achievement and promote awareness of motorsports careers. The course concludes with a day at the races, applying STEM knowledge and motorsport career awareness to the Gatorade Duel – two 150-mile qualifying races that determine the starting lineup for the Daytona 500, Feb. 20.
“This partnership is an important step forward in bringing the exciting world of professional motorsports into the classroom and to a more youthful audience,” said Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood. “Race teams depend on science and technology to help their drivers gain every bit of speed possible on the race track. The Driving SCIENCE students will be able to take what they learned in the classroom and see it applied in person on the high banks of Daytona International Speedway.”
“DuPont is a leader in supporting STEM education. We all win when we help develop a work force that has an understanding of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, including local communities, businesses like DuPont, the United States and the world,” said DuPont Motorsports Manager Larry Deas. “Linking the Daytona International Speedway with STEM professional development allows teachers and students alike to see the many career opportunities available to them in racing and in business.”
Driving SCIENCE is based on the DuPont National Agriscience Teacher Ambassador Academy – a professional development program that has transformed the teaching of science in high school agricultural programs. For Florida to receive a Race to the Top Grant from the federal government, the state has committed to an improvement in the teaching and learning of STEM disciplines. Driving SCIENCE at Daytona International Speedway helps Florida meet this goal, with a dual focus on changing the teaching of STEM disciplines and developing a cadre of leaders who will ensure that change happens in their schools and districts.
The analysis of speed, understanding force, energy and motion, experimenting with “mouse trap” cars and figuring out how safety applies to major super speedways are all a part of the curriculum during the first three days. Each teaching module is a hands-on experience. Inquiry-based teaching techniques are used and learned during this professional development course.
The emphasis on STEM education is driven by business and industry leaders who envision a work force with literacy in STEM disciplines, problem solving abilities that include being able to apply understanding to new problems and implement solutions, self-reliance in setting goals, working within time frames and applying design processes, and; ability to collaborate with others in the workplace and understanding that teamwork is essential for success in many situations.
Tickets for all Speedweeks 2011 events, including the 53rd annual Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 20, are available online at http://www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP. Fans can stay connected with Daytona International Speedway on Twitter (www.twitter.com/disupdates) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/DaytonaInternationalSpeedway)