A new STEM project called Elementary Engineered for Speed culminated in Race Days at Christina Huddleston, Eastview, and Lakeview Elementary Schools between May 30 and June 4. More than 300 Lakeville Area fifth graders built wooden race cars and learned about the automotive industry.
On Race Day, students were able to race their cars three times down a ramp-like track. They had opportunities to make improvements between races. Their goal was to design their car to go the fastest and furthest down the track.
Throughout Elementary Engineered for Speed, students received help from volunteer employees from QA1, a Lakeville company specializing in parts for the racing market. At the beginning of the project, QA1 engineers talked to classes at each participating school about the engineering process, how what they do relates to what the students were doing, and how to engineer their cars.
The students were able to choose from three car designs: a speedy muscle car, a compact car, and a pickup truck. Students in the Lakeville South STEM Academy laser cut all the parts for the cars. The fifth graders then assembled the cars in their classrooms.
Some fifth graders used a 3D design software called Tinkercad to design extra parts for the race cars, such as spoilers. QA1 volunteers helped the students design parts for their cars. Lakeville South STEM Academy students 3D-printed the parts the fifth graders designed.
“The kids are super engaged right from the get-go of this project,” said Jennifer Noreault, Eastview Elementary STEM Teacher. “When the kids get to use Tinkercad, when they get to use this real wood, it’s a lot more engaging because of the resources they are using,” said Noreault.
“There were students, I’m not kidding, they were coming in on their lunch and recess times to work on their cars because they were so excited and wanted to get their cars just right,” said Dawn Coats, Lakeview Elementary STEM Teacher.
The final step before Race Day was testing and making adjustments to the cars. The fifth graders were able to use the same track that was to be used for the races. They ran their cars down the track to test performance. Students added and removed small weights to fine tune their cars.
Even though Race Day is over and students are out of school, this project will continue this summer. Students will have the opportunity to show off their creations to everyone in Lakeville during the Pan-O-Prog Car Show in Downtown Lakeville on July 13. They will be on display at the QA1 booth from 1-4 p.m.
This project was made possible through a $1,000 grant from Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) and partnerships with Lakeville South STEM Academy and QA1.
“I think it’s such a rewarding thing to come here and do this,” said David Kass, QA1 Marketing Manager. “Seeing that these kids are getting excited about using this technology and how it adapts in the real world, it’s just fantastic. We’re thrilled to be a part of it,” said Kass.
From start to finish, Elementary Engineered for Speed is student focused, community connected. It’s designed to give students exposure to the automotive industry and engineering careers at a young age. It’s also designed to increase learning with the help of local industry experts. Lessons students took away from the project included deductive reasoning, engineering design, aerodynamics, critical and creative thinking, and collaborated communication.
In the future, Lakeville Area Schools hopes to expand this project to all eight elementary schools.