Physics students at Chavez High School are revving up their math and science skills and putting them to the test in a real life application that has the potential to hit speeds of over 180 miles per hour.
Chavez science and engineering teacher Greg Ditch helped create Chavez Motorsports Engineering – an after school program in which students learn what it takes to engineer a competitive race car that will be put to the ultimate test run by a real NASCAR driver.
With generous support from JC Whitney and other aftermarket companies, Ditch and his students set to work on transforming a stock 2006 Pontiac GTO into a 700 horse power race car. Over a period of six weeks, the students learned how math and science apply to the world of high performance motor sports, and learned the business of racing through marketing and sponsor relations.
Ditch is a science teacher and a racer, having worked in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. He also won an SCCA Regional Title in 2002.
“For three years my science students have been asking me to do a race project,” said Ditch. “I even taught a two day chemistry unit on turbo chargers and nitrous, but it still wasn’t enough. They wanted more math and science and they wanted to know how to apply it.”
The highlight for the race car project will take place March 22-24 at the Texas Mile in Beeville, Texas, where students will hand over the keys to NASCAR Nationwide Series driver Donnie Neunberger. Racers come from all over North America to take part in the three-day event in order to test themselves and their motorized equipment on the fastest and most challenging one mile track in the world. Chavez students will serve as pit crew members during Neunberger’s test run of their ‘science project’.
“I took a shop class back when I was in high school, but today that’s not enough,” said Neunberger. “The people that are most needed in our industry have a background in engineering, math and science.”
Read more about Chavez teacher Greg Ditch, in this week’s I am HISD profile in e-news.