The BioMoto program coordinated by the North Carolina Biotechnology Center is bringing a new approach to STEM disciplines (science, engineering, technology and math) while exposing more than 250 eighth-graders and 16 teachers representing 11 middle schools in the Cabarrus County, Kannapolis City, Richmond County and Rowan-Salisbury school systems to the motorsports industry. The goal is to inspire students to explore STEM careers later in life.
Partnering in the effort with the North Carolina Biotechnology Center is the North Carolina Motorsports Association, while funding is provided through a grant from the Golden LEAF Foundation as well as financial support from 30 companies.
"Studies show that eighth grade is the time when students typically opt in or out of science, so given that the Charlotte area is near so many NASCAR teams, the BioMoto initiative engages students in a technology and motorsports endeavor for a full two semesters," says Corie Curtis, executive director of the North Carolina Biotechnology Center's Greater Charlotte office. "Each fall, a new group of eighth-graders from the four school systems begins the program, and we are looking to involve even more districts in the near future," she says.
Invent a Movable Apparatus
Curtis says the endeavor is filled with interesting examples of how STEM impacts motorsports.
"Students learn several real-world applications such as nutrition and physical fitness for racing drivers and pit crew members, plus the eighth-graders participate in their own pit crew challenges with a real stock car at Rockingham Dragway," she says. Curtis adds that a key component of BioMoto is having the eighth-graders invent and construct a movable nonracing apparatus.
"We've had lots of good feedback about BioMoto, with several students - both girls and boys - saying they are now more interested in STEM than ever before," Curtis says.