Appalachian State

BioMoto STEM Challenge Kicks Off Second Season

October 24, 2012
By Jeremy Summers, NCBiotech Writer

The best way to get kids interested in science and math is by connecting it with something they’re already interested in.

There aren’t many children in North Carolina that aren’t fascinated by the high-speed thrills of NASCAR, which is what makes it the perfect way to get kids interested in science.

The BioMoto STEM Challenge is a unique educational program that builds off the excitement and popularity of racing to entice students to learn about the biotechnology and science behind the sport. The program motivates middle school students to improve their understanding of science, technology, education, and mathematics (STEM) in order to help them succeed in school and to inspire them to consider STEM-based careers.

Throughout October, more than 250 students from the Cabarrus, Kannapolis, Richmond and Rowan-Salisbury school systems will make their way to the North Carolina Research Campus (NCRC), in Kannapolis, for the program’s second season.

The three-year program is a collaborative educational initiative underwritten by a $300,000 grant from the Golden LEAF Foundation and guided by the North Carolina Biotechnology Center’s Greater Charlotte Office and the North Carolina Motorsports Association.

More than 1,500 students from at least 12 North Carolina school districts are expected to participate in the program.

Students learn about science behind sports

A comprehensive “body and mind” endeavor, BioMoto is designed to mirror the functions of actual pit crews and teach students the significance of STEM disciplines, nutrition and physical fitness, as well as teamwork and creativity.

Students undergo fitness testing as part of the curriculum. Photo taken by James Nix.

These students will undergo fitness testing at the Appalachian State University Human Performance Laboratory, where they will learn about the importance of nutrition and physical fitness in being a successful athlete.

“In addition to the STEM curriculum taught by BioMoto coaches, students are benefitting immensely from the physical fitness components of the program,” said Corie Curtis, BioMoto program director and interim executive director NCBiotech’s Greater Charlotte Office. “During year one of the initiative, the average student showed improvement in all fitness areas measured.”

Students will have the opportunity to tour local NASCAR landmarks, including Hendrick Motorsports, UNC Charlotte’s Alan D. Kulwicki Motorsports Laboratory and the one-of-a-kind rolling-road wind tunnel at Windshear, Inc.

The curriculum, which is spread over two semesters, culminates on March 9, 2013, with students participating in the BioMoto Capstone Competition at Rockingham Dragway, also known as “The Rock.” The competition features a student design challenge and modified pit stops using real stock cars.

Program organizers are working to engage more participants and volunteers for the competition, as attendance is expected to exceed the inaugural event, held this past March.

“The enthusiastic commitment of our educational and industry partners has been overwhelming. We are so appreciative of their support and continue to seek greater involvement to further enrich the students’ experience.”

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By Jeremy Summers, NCBiotech Writer

By Jeremy Summers, NCBiotech Writer

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