As excitement builds for 2023 Chicago Street Race Weekend, NASCAR and Chicago Public Schools (CPS) today announced a collaborative initiative that will engage and inspire more than 22,000 students with racing-themed STEM and STEAM learning experiences and curriculum. The partnership was announced by CPS and Chicago Street Race officials today at the Field Museum in downtown Chicago with the help of 2023 DAYTONA 500 champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr., fresh off the driver‘s victory at Daytona International Speedway on Sunday.
Beginning in March, CPS students from all 43 STEM and STEAM schools will compete in an in-classroom design challenge culminating with the first-ever “STEAM Fest” in downtown Chicago on May 2. Nearly 500 student finalists will interact with NASCAR drivers, engineers and other industry STEM professionals at the Field Museum in the event‘s championship round for a chance to attend the Chicago Street Race Weekend.
In addition, CPS and NASCAR will work together to develop new STEM curriculum for eighth-grade students exploring fundamental science and engineering concepts within the sport. The NASCAR-themed curriculum, designed to address Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) Performance Expectations, will be finalized and introduced in middle schools during the 2023-2024 school year.
“Chicago was the birthplace of American auto racing in 1895 and we couldn‘t be more excited to give our students an opportunity to be a part of that history through our District‘s partnership with NASCAR,” said CPS CEO Pedro Martinez. ”Hands-on projects like STEAM Fest will empower students to make real-world connections with their studies that take them from the start-finish line all the way to the checkered flag and exciting career opportunities in STEM.”
The collaboration reflects NASCAR‘s overarching commitment to the Chicago community and specifically programs that have a positive and lasting impact on local youth and teens.
“When you consider the science and technology that exists across NASCAR, we have a unique opportunity to connect CPS students with STEM education in ways that are fun, engaging and hopefully inspiring,” said Julie Giese, Chicago Street Race President. “Importantly, NASCAR and the Chicago Street Race are building foundational programs with CPS that will benefit students and teachers now and for many years into the future.”
The design competition will enable NASCAR to connect with more than 22,000 students enrolled at CPS STEM and STEAM Schools, with every student in grades K-12 challenged to design their own race helmets. The students, organized in groups, will receive kits with simple materials and design race helmets that address key elements including safety, communication, ventilation, and other technological innovations. The complexity of the challenge will vary depending on grade.
Top-performing groups from each of the 43 schools will earn invitations to STEAM Fest at the Field Museum. At the event, schools will be assigned a new NASCAR challenge and compete against each other with the support of NASCAR Cup Series drivers and STEM professionals employed across the sport. The champion groups for each grade will receive complimentary tickets to the Chicago Street Race Weekend.
The curriculum integration, which will impact eighth-grade students at all CPS middle schools, will focus on the research and design process. Together with NASCAR engineers, CPS STEM faculty will identify specific engineering needs that exist in NASCAR and students will be tasked with building design proposals that address the real-word challenge with potential solutions.
A group of eighth-grade students will visit the site of the Chicago Street Race to learn first-hand how the curriculum material comes to life at a NASCAR event and the sport‘s first street race in its 75-year history. The students will capture data and content leading up to the event, which will be included in the curriculum planned for launch.
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