Center for Tire Research
An NSF Industry/University Cooperative Research Center

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As part of our Center’s STEM outreach efforts, Ron Kennedy visited Dent Middle School in Columbia, South Carolina (where his daughter is a 6th grade math teacher).  He spoke to two groups of combined 6th grade math and science classes, one with 38 girls and the other with 28 boys.  He had worked with the math and science teachers ahead of time to put together a presentation about engineering in general, and tire engineering in particular, along with an activity that tied in with what the students had recently been learning in their classes.  A discussion of vehicle fuel economy lead into the activity in which three balls made of different types of rubber, and which therefore bounced differently, lead the students into better understanding of potential energy, deformation energy, and loss energy.  During the activity they made qualitative observations of the balls, quantitative measurements of rebound height, and data analysis for which they had to use their math skills.  There was good interaction with the students, and all seemed to enjoy the activity.  We have been invited to do this again next year.  We will also be looking for opportunities to interact with other schools to plant a seed of interest into the students, hopefully eventually leading them to a career in the tire and tire-related industries.


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