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Soap Box Derby Launches STEM-Based Curriculum

12.12.2016
Four Module Photo SmallerCurriculum Modules 1-4

The International Soap Box Derby (ISBD) is entering new territory with the launch of a curriculum as part of its STEM-based education program. The curriculum is directed at children in grades fifth through eighth.

The curriculum features five modules that contain activities that engage learners with project based lessons, team building, inquiry based learning, creative problem solving and FUN!

“We’re extremely excited and proud of the new curriculum,” said Derby President & CEO Joe Mazur. “The Derby has come a long way over the last several years and this is another piece of the puzzle that adds to the continuing growth of the Derby’s education program. We piloted and tested the modules last year and received positive feedback from educators and students. We made some changes over the last year and feel that we have a great product that can be used inside or outside the classroom using the Soap Box Derby and gravity racing as a tool to give students a fun, STEM-based learning opportunity.”   

The Akron, Ohio based nonprofit organization, best known for sanctioning and operating Soap Box Derby races around the world, including the FirstEnergy All-American Soap Box Derby, began its education initiative in 2010 with the creation of the Gravity Racing Challenge STEM Team Competition. Two Soap Box Derby cars were placed in the National Inventors Hall of Fame School as a test to see if children in a classroom setting would benefit from constructing, fine-tuning and racing Derby cars. The GRC STEM Team competition is now held in seven different locations and has grown to include more than 300 teams. The teams come from traditional classroom settings, after school programs and youth programs such as Boy Scouts, Girls Scouts and Boys and Girls Clubs. In 2011 Soap Box Derby Mini Cars and workbooks were introduced as part of the education program. The cars are 1/13th scale replica cars of the Derby's three divisions: Stock, Super Stock and Masters. Mini Cars are now being used in classrooms and after school settings around the country to introduce students to STEM through gravity racing.

“The curriculum idea really came from educators who were already involved with our GRC and Mini Car programs,” said Derby Vice President Bobby Dinkins. “They told us that Soap Box Derby was a great hands-on learning tool for their students and they wanted more.”

The modules focus on developing STEM competencies such as prototyping, research, critical thinking, problem solving, communication, collaboration and teamwork.

The development of the curriculum was made possible by funding from the GAR FoundationCounty of Summit Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program, Cohen Community FoundationLehner Family FoundationBridgestone Americas Trust FundGeorge Stevens Fund of the Akron Community Foundation, R.C. Musson & Katherine M. Musson Charitable Foundation and Akrochem Corporation.

The five modules can be purchased together or separately. One module is not dependent on the other and most of the necessary supplies are packaged with each module.

For more information please go to: /education-program/curriculum.aspx