By Amy Cunningham
Burns Middle School has a chance to measure up their science, technology, engineering and math skills through some high-tech racing this May. The team has been selected to compete in the 2014 NASCAR S.T.E.M. Ten80 Student Racing Challenge National Championship in Charlotte, NC.
Through this program, students have hands on experience with the S.T.E.M. content areas and several students are now showing interest in attending college to study engineering, science and business. This event is part of NASCAR’s annual Sprint Cup All-Star Race featuring students in a competition using radio controlled (RC) cars. Building race tracks using scale drawings and utilizing algebraic concepts to experiment in physical science concepts such as force, mass and acceleration and measuring time versus distance in real world experiments allow the students to experience science, math and technology in action. They perform tasks such as constant speed straight runs controlling the throttle without breaking set time limits, time trials using metric and standard measurements, configuring gear rations, learning how to extend batteries, engineer aero-dynamic bodies and determining tire compounds and tread design for competition.
Bobby Diehl, former race car driver and Burns Middle School Technology teacher, emphasized that his students involved with the program incorporate the new Common Core Concepts of math and science through the application of technology and engineering tasks. Many of these students would not be familiar with these careers if it weren’t for their exposure with the S.T.E.M. program.
“The program is based not only around the world of NASCAR, but also weaves in the many other technical careers and industries within the community,” Diehl said.
Attending such an event is not without some obstacles such as developing the budget for expenses to get to the championship. Without the help of sponsors and donors the students will not be able to participate. The students are holding spirit nights and contacting local businesses for sponsorships and donations. To cover the cost of travel expenses, housing and building materials for the cars, Burns students welcome donations and community support. Those who provide $100 or more will have their business name/logo on an RC car and advertising materials.
Persons interested in sponsorship and donations can send donations to Burns Middle School S.T.E.M. Challenge Program, 615 Brooker Rd., Brandon, FL 33511, e-mail Diehl at fastruckinc @aol.com or call 817-7223.