This Fall, DISD Will Start Using Hot Wheels To Teach Kinetic Energy Concepts In Its Science Classes.
Mattel’s line of Hot Wheels toy cars and endless tracks have entertained both children and adults for almost 50 years now. Whether it was the hours-long set-up of your winding course that ran through your mother’s kitchen, the jumping your cars in stunt fashion or the simple collecting them for future generations, most of us have a strong familiarity with the iconic brand.
But something you might’ve missed is the company’s initiative of using their products for education in science classrooms — something that the Dallas Independent School District will be implementing into its curriculum this coming fall. Last Monday, DISD hosted its first teacher training session with this program as part of its Accelerating Campus Excellence (ACE) initiative. There, they started learning how to assemble tracks, how to build those memorable loops and, most important, what it is that makes those tiny little cars go.
Developed by Hot Wheels and University of Southern California’s Rossier School of Education, the “Speedometry” program aims to teach children the concepts of kinetic energy, velocity and distance through the use of toy cars. Lesson plans are based on the “5E” model — engage, explore, explain, elaborate and evaluate — and students are engaged through hands-on experiments and lessons that focus on measurements of time and distance that use the little racers.
In December of 2015, Mattel evaluated the program for its effectiveness with 1,800 fourth graders across 59 classrooms and found that it led to improvements in student knowledge and interest in science. Furthermore, students who experienced Speedometry showed greater engagement in the lessons than students who didn’t.
Just on concept alone, we’d say Mattel’s initiative to integrate the timeless collectibles into DISD’s science curriculum is an interesting idea with potential. I mean, c’mon, toys and games in the classroom? Which among us doesn’t remember all the lessons learned from Oregon Trail?
The lesson was to not die of dysentery, right?