Using NASCAR to Teach Physical Science: Focus on Chemistry

Janet Bunnell Raybon, Chemistry, Physical Science, Myers Park High School

Final Unit (PDF)

Implementing Common Core Standards

200 Word Synopsis

NASCAR forms the backdrop for the study of chemistry concepts in a physical science setting.  The study of matter encompasses a look at the materials used in race car construction and the physical properties of each. Two “engineering” activities allow students to build a simple conductivity tester and a calorimeter that will be used in unit activities.  Chemical reactions are addressed with combustion serving as the focal reaction.  Students study internal combustion [PT1] engines and the energy produced through the combustion process as well as the environmental impact of combustion engines. Activities engage students in the study of energy of foods and a comparison with the “food” or fuels used in engines.  A culminating research project and a debate of gasoline versus diesel engines wraps up the unit.

 [PT1]The common reference is the internal combustion engine.