Guest post by Simona De Silvestro, Driver of No. 78 Nuclear Clean Air Energy IndyCar
This year’s Indy 500 was exciting both on and off the track. The day before the race, 75 Girl Scouts descended on the KV Racing Technology hospitality tent for a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) workshop.
When I arrived at the tent, the girls were divided between five different activities exploring the technology behind racing and electricity. A Girl Scout from each activity described what they had learned throughout the afternoon: the role of thrust, lift and drag on my Nuclear Clean Air Energy IndyCar, how to generate electricity using a homemade generator, nuclear fission, and the importance of engineering design in buildings. Each of these activities was led by AREVA engineers and volunteers from the Purdue Minority Engineering Program and the Nuclear Energy Institute. The Girl Scouts also explored the anatomy of an atom through a painting activity with Suzy Hobbs Baker of the Nuclear Literacy Project, and gave me the final product as a gift – I think it turned out really cool.
The workshop was a great way to raise awareness of clean energy and to engage the girls in activities that reinforce that science and engineering are both important and fun. After rotating through all five activities, the girls earned a special Nuclear Clean Air Energy patch for their hard work.
Both racing and clean energy depend on people with STEM skills and we need to encourage kids to pursue STEM career paths. I think it’s cool that I’m able to engage kids through their interest in racing to think about the importance of clean energy and how they can get involved.