Steam project

It was an exciting morning on May 10 as St. Martin’s Episcopal School’s 2019 graduating class competed in the second annual 8th-grade boxcar race. This STEAM-based event was the culmination of a semester-long project where teams of three or four honed their skills in science, technology, engineering, art and math to build a working boxcar to race against their peers. The 8th-grade capstone project highlights the STEAM-focused curriculum taught at St. Martin’s in a fun and interactive manner. 

Teams of students designed, built and raced their boxcars in accordance with the International Red Bull Soapbox Derby regulations and rules. Each team produced a to-scale blueprint of their design and built one boxcar made of mostly recycled materials to accommodate one rider and two pushers. Students used physics, geometry and ratios to design and modify their boxcars for agility, speed and acceleration. In addition, they created websites to organize all components of their boxcar plans and even translated one section of the site into either French or Spanish. Each car sported a distinctive theme, which also aligned with the team’s costumes and choreographed dances they performed before the race.

Sixteen teams competed for the Fastest Boxcar trophy including Little Einsteins, Moana, Nerf, Mindcrafters and Surfer Girls. In the end, Cars seized first, followed closely by High School Musical. After the race, High School Musical had a shot at redemption and clinched first place in the agility course. St. Martin’s 5th-grade students and their teachers helped judge the boxcars for best theme, costume and team dance. They awarded the Powerpuff Girls with Best Overall Theme.

The project was created and named for Carter Davis, son of St. Martin’s 8th-grade English teacher Michele Davis, who passed away in August of 2016. Carter was a rising senior at a Cherokee County high school and had planned to build the boxcar for his senior project. The St. Martin’s 8th-grade teaching team adopted the idea to live into the school’s commitment to STEAM and honor Carter.

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