Three groups of students studying physics at Decatur Central High School toured KV Racing Technology's Indianapolis headquarters 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 IZOD IndyCar Series car. This is National Engineers Week.
"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."
Several members of KV Racing Technology -- 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.
"I wanted to visit and work with KV Racing to try and infuse the community into our learning and classroom," physics teacher Amy Hayworth 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 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.