Imagine students building the coolest ramp they can to make a toy car go as fast as possible, or studying what happens when two cars collide. These are some examples of the many lessons included in the new Hot Wheels Speedometry curriculum being used at Dallas ISD elementary schools.
The curriculum, designed by researchers at the University of Southern California and with fourth-grade teachers, is provided by the Mattel Children’s Foundation, and is geared to make learning math, science and engineering a fun, hands-on experience through play.
Oran M. Roberts Elementary is one of 18 elementary schools in the district using the kits.
“I want to see my students excited about learning,” said Juan Ornelas, a fifth-grade science teacher at Oran Roberts. “When I see an opportunity in my lessons where students would benefit from these activities, I use them and I see that they are more eager to learn.”
Ornelas said he believes that the curriculum provides reinforcement for what he’s teaching his students.
“Two weeks ago, the students had a difficult time learning about friction, so I decided to reteach the concept using Hot Wheels Speedometry,” he said. “Because it was a hands-on experience and students were very engaged, their grades went up.”
Jared Tavares, STEM Science Curriculum Coordinator for the district, has been instrumental in bringing this curriculum to the district’s campuses. “It’s great, because students learn about concepts such as energy, force, motion and experimental design,” said Tavares.
Tavares also said the curriculum is aligned with the state’s requirements of Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, also known as TEKS.
“The target grade for the kits is for fourth-grade students,” Taveres said. “But after reviewing the curriculum and seeing the materials that were included, we decided that it would also be good for TEKS in fifth grade, which include force and motion.”