The Safford and Thatcher Boy Scouts were tasked with infusing more STEM programming into the Scout experience. Seeing an opportunity to do so with their annual Pinewood Derby, they incorporated engineering and math into the event and brought science and competition together for a unique STEM experience.
With the help of the Arizona Rural Activation and Innovation Network (RAIN) the Boy Scouts were able to purchase derby car kits for the community to build and to race. Incorporating engineering and mathematics, the participants would have to calculate the speed and model the aerodynamics of the car, engineering a derby car concept that would utilize their calculations to beat the competition.
What were the outcomes?
RAIN’s Graham & Greenlee RIC approved funding for this program in 2018. 119 people participated with 64 kits distributed to a majority of participants between the ages of 11-14 (78% female!) Not only did this project expose people in the community to STEM, but 32% said it was their first STEM event ever, and 79% said this project increased their interest in the topic. This one event has inspired almost 100 young people to become more interested in the STEM field.
But the impact doesn’t stop there…
There was more car kits purchased than used in 2018, and the plan is to use those remaining car kits to create community partnerships with the Boys and Girls Club and other community clubs. The youth involved in those clubs will be given car kits, taught to create a race car and will be invited to participate in the races. This will further the impact on the youth of Thatcher and Safford even further, encouraging more youth to participate and to get excited about STEM activities.
The Arizona Rural Activation and Innovation Network (RAIN) is funded by the National Science Foundation to oversee grant funding for informal STEM education projects in four rural Arizona communities: Cochise County, Graham and Greenlee County, the Verde Valley, and the Navapache/White Mountains region. RAIN acts as a resource for best practices in informal STEM program development and works to highlight effective STEM programs, employers and organizations across the state of Arizona. Interested in applying for a grant? Visit our website today and learn more about the opportunities in your community.