North Bay students from 40 classrooms and clubs will take part in the fifth annual STEM Race Car Challenge, presented by Friedman’s Home Improvement.

The curriculum-based program, a partnership with Sonoma Raceway, Kid Scoop News and Friedman’s Home Improvement, focuses on educating students about the importance of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and culminates at the Toyota/Save Mart 350 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series event in June.

Groups of student engineers have been tasked with developing a gravity-powered race car utilizing recycled materials. Kid Scoop News works closely with teachers to develop a STEM-based curriculum that challenges students to think critically and work collaboratively to build the quickest car. Activities in the STEM Race Car Challenge are designed to introduce and reinforce both national common core standards and 21st century job skills.

Students will put their purpose-built race cars to the test in a series of qualifying rounds at each school, which will narrow down to a group of finalists who will compete in the final round on June 23, of the Toyota/Save Mart 350 weekend. The winning student engineers of the STEM Race Car Challenge will serve as VIPs during the Carneros 200 NASCAR West Series race on Saturday, receive a trophy and tickets to Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 race, courtesy of Friedman’s Home Improvement.

Sonoma Raceway has partnered with Sonoma-based Kid Scoop News, a children’s literacy nonprofit that publishes and distributes a free monthly reader to 500 classrooms and 18,000 kids in the North and East Bay, on the race car challenge. Kid Scoop News has been key to the program, as the organization is a leader in providing high-interest content that motivates kids to read and explore topics, including STEM. Through their effort, the program has reached more than 4,000 students since its inception in 2014.

“The demand for STEM jobs has been three times greater than the demand for non-STEM jobs,” said Vicki Whiting, content developer and publisher of Kid Scoop News. “To create the workforce our country needs, STEM careers must be nurtured and encourage in today’s youth. Teachers have told us that working on STEM subjects by offering a hands-on, car-racing theme really engages their students.”