IndyCar appealing to STEM students with kart building competition

HIGHLAND, Ill. - As some of Indy racing's biggest names prepare to hit the track at World Wide Technology Raceway this weekend, some local students are preparing for a race of their own. Ten teams are entered into the Junior 500 championship putting their knowledge about science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) to the test.

Their mission: build a racing kart, learn to drive, and race the course.

"They're learning how to build a car, but more importantly, they're learning how to work together as a team," said Raven Ward, director of programs for the Jackie Joyner Kersee Foundation. "One of the primary things we teach is working together, and we feel like if we can get a group of kids to work together on anything, then they all can win in life."

Art McCoy, superintendent of the Jennings School District, said he is excited to see the students get in the driver's seat and put their hard work into action.

"Many of the students haven't been outside of Jennings before or north St. Louis, so they were excited to come to Illinois, to come to a racetrack for the first time in their life, and then to have access to a vehicle that can go up to 80 miles per hour," McCoy said. "These young people don't even have their licenses yet."

Thursday night (August 22), teams put the final touches on building their racing karts. Friday (Aug. 23), students will compete on the half-mile Gateway Kartplex racecourse. The winner will be announced Saturday (Aug. 24).

Students and their families from across the region have been invited to attend Saturday's big Indy race. An estimated 11,000 new race fans will be in attendance.

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