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Nascar: A Unit Study

Karen Caroe
reprinted with permission

INTRODUCTION

Regardless of how one feels about car racing, NASCAR is becoming a household word. Everywhere you look, NASCAR drivers are on soda machines, billboards, television and --more than likely--visiting somewhere near your hometown. The goal of this unit is to learn a little more about NASCAR in general while using it as a "jumping off point" for more in-depth studies in other areas.

RESOURCES

Internet Sites

NASCAR Online
http://www.nascar.com/index.html
Beakman's Electric Motor
http://fly.hiwaay.net/~palmer/motor.html


Books
The following books are by Dorling Kindersley and you can't beat them for doing a unit study with any age group.
CARS & HOW THEY WORK
EYEWITNESS VISUAL DICTIONARY: CARS
LOOK INSIDE CROSS SECTIONS: CARS
ULTIMATE STICKER BOOK OF CARS
DK POCKET BOOK OF CARS
DK STICKER FUN PACK OF CARS
MIGHTY MACHINES: RACE CAR


Periodicals
Check your local library for titles available about cars and car racing.

THE UNIT


BIBLE

Obviously car racing is not a Biblical topic but I think it is critical to use the Bible to help us make life applications for our studies and to give us a foundation by which to measure that which we learn. There are several approaches you may take.
1) Look up references to chariots (the Biblical equivalent of a race car). Read excerpts from Exodus showing God prevailed over the power and speed of Pharaoh's chariots as they pursued the Israelites who were on foot.
2) Read the Proverbs and discuss "risk-taking" and personal responsibility. Is car racing something that anyone can just get in a car and do?
3) Apply the Bible to science studies, showing God's laws of physics and their application(s) to car-racing. Think of the various "God-variables" that apply to racing. (ie, weather conditions, wind velocity, wind direction, centrifugal force, speed.) Racers must take all of these God-created conditions and consider them prior to racing.

LANGUAGE ARTS

1) Read a biography of a Nascar driver--or find out what you can and write a biography.
2) Make a list of vocabulary words that apply to car racing. Use them for spelling, dictionary and writing skills. Find them in your reading.
3) NASCAR is an anagram. What does it stand for? Can you think of other common anagrams?
4) Write a description of the ideal car or an imagined race car. Take time to use your vocabulary words, reinforce parts of speech--especially adjectives. Use good sentence structure.
*Additional activity. Read the descriptive paper to someone else and see if they can draw the car based on your description.
5) Write a letter to Nascar headquarters to request information. This could be considered a business letter, a friendly letter, or a request for information letter. Learn correct form.

MATH

1) Learn how to figure gas mileages. Years ago when speed limits were dropped to conserve energy, it was clear that speed related to gasoline consumption. Why? (This is also science)
Figure how fast 10 gallons of gasoline would be used up at 55 mph, 80 mph, 120mph.
2) How far around is a track? Practice multiplying how many miles it would be to go x times around a track.
3) What is the average amount of prize money a driver can win?
4) If x number of people paid x amount of dollars to get in to a race, how much would the track take in?

SCIENCE

1) Try building a small engine or motor (see Internet site on Beakman's motor)
2) Build a model.
3) Chemistry: Study the different kinds of fuels.
4) Physics: Centrifugal force. Speed. Impact.
5) Study the differences between a race car engine and the family car engine.
6) Race hot wheels on a track. Hypothesize as to which will win and why. Note the results. What changes can be made.
7) Study alternative energy sources: solar powered cars, electric cars, etc.

HISTORY

1) What is the history of car racing?
2) Who invented the car?
3) Make a time line of car racing--or just Nascar. Put on winners, etc. (DK stickers are great for this project! Children love them.)

GEOGRAPHY

1) Locate all the racetracks in the US and mark them on a map.
2) Do other cars have car racing? Locate those on a map.
3) Locate the hometowns of various Nascar drivers.

KITCHEN FUN

1) Hot Dog Hot Rod
One hot dog
two toothpicks
one carrot
Insert the toothpicks all the way through the hot dog in the front and the back. Cut four round slices from the carrot. Insert the carrots onto the toothpicks like wheels.

Wagon Wheel Cookies
One package of round, sturdy oatmeal cookies
One can of icing
One package of licorice whips
Ice the cookies. Cut the licorice into pieces with scissors and press into place like the spokes of a wheel.

ART

1) Do a collage of car pictures or drivers.
2) Build and paint a model.
3) Try doing a race car out of ceramics.
4) Build a legos or K'Nex race car
5) Make race flags for your hot wheels
. 6) Draw/paint/design a futuristic car.

OTHER ACTIVITIES

1) Why are people fascinated by car racing or speed?
2) What are the meanings of the different flags? Who thought of b/w check and why?
3) Delve into other kinds of transportation.
4) What character traits are common among Nascar drivers?
5) Are those good qualities?
6) What could be the "tragic flaw" of a driver?
7) Discuss safety. Why shouldn't people race on regular roads.
8) Go to a car race.
9) Go see a Nascar car and/or driver. They tour to midsize towns all across the country.
10) Go to a hot rod show.

I hope this Summer Fun unit will be fun for the whole family no matter when you do it. I firmly believe we can find great learning opportunities in every aspect of life--even such diversions as NASCAR! All schooling should be FUNSCHOOLING!

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