The annual BioMoto Capstone Competition came to Rockingham Dragway on Saturday and all four middle schools in Richmond County participated. Three of the four schools placed in several events.
The Capstone Competition is the culmination of the BioMoto STEM Challenge which is a year-long program. The Challenge is a collaborative educational initiative that is 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, according to the North Carolina Research campus.
Several hundred eighth grade students from the Richmond, Cabarrus, Rowan-Salisbury, Kannapolis City school systems and others participated.
Students that participated in the Capstone Competition competed in a modified pit crew challenge using an apparatus they created at their schools. During the three-year grant program, more than 1,500 students from at least 12 school districts in North Carolina will participate.
The goal of the program is to motivate 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. The program builds off of the popularity of NASCAR and the science and math that make a pit crew and race team successful.
The BioMoto STEM Challenge is a challenge comprised of four different competitions called Peak Body, Invention Showdown, Peak Mind, and a Pit Crew Challenge.
According to Benny Leviner, eighth grade Exceptional Children teacher for Ellerbe Middle School, each school had two teams.
For the Peak Body challenge, students participate in physical fitness evaluations at the Appalachian State University’s Human Performance Laboratory in October and again in February. This challenge is used to show children the fitness of a pit crew member, said Susan Hinson, regional coordinator of the greater Charlotte office for the North Carolina Biotechnology Center. Whichever team improves the greatest in fitness wins the competition.
For the Invention Showdown challenge, students build an apparatus simulating the functions that a pit crew completes during a pit stop. The Golden LEAF Foundation gave STEM coaches $500 for supplies for both teams. The apparatus must be designed and built by students.
The Peak Mind challenge consists of a written exam, a coach-submitted lesson plan and two tasks that are selected by the students.
The Pit Crew challenge consists of the children using a real stock car to perform pit crew tasks.
The 2013 BioMoto Grand Champion was the Daytona team from Hamlet Middle School, which was coached by eighth grade science teacher Mark Burr.
Burr said that he is very proud and that the trophy was very big and heavy.
The Daytona team was also awarded the Watson Vande Garde Award for a design that was deemed most patentable as judged by two patent attorneys.
The Pit Warriors from Rockingham Middle School, which was coached by eighth grade teacher Christopher Dennis, won third place in the Peak Body 2013 competition.
Pam Robinson from Rohanen Middle School also brought teams to the competition. They did not place, but they did put forth a great effort, Hinson said.
The Peak Mind 2013 competition was won by both the Daytona team and the Talladega team, also coached by Burr, and 3rd place was given to the MONSTAZ INC. team, which was coached by Leviner.
“I’m really proud of that one,” Burr said.
Leviner’s other team, EZ Ryderz, also received an honorable mention in the Peak Mind 2013 competition.
“It was a really good group of kids, they all worked very hard,” Leviner said of his teams.
He said the students were motivated and driven and “put everything they had into every aspect of the competition.”
Dennis’ other team, Nascar, won 2nd place in the invention showdown 2013 and Talledega won 3rd place in the Pit Crew Challenge 2013 and Daytona received an honorable mention in the same competition.
The Capstone Competition concludes the second year of the BioMoto STEM Challenge with the exception of the BioMoto Video Award, which will be awarded in April.
— Staff Writer Laura Edington can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 18, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.