IndyCar Racer Simona De Silvestro Supports Charlotte-Based Students’ STEAM Project

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On Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013, 500 students at Druid Hills Academy had a visit from Simona De Silvestro, driver of the No. 78 Nuclear Clean Air Energy IndyCar, in collaboration with the Nuclear Literacy Project. Fresh off a career-high, second place podium finish in Houston, De Silvestro took time to talk to students about the importance of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM) education.

As part of the Nuclear Clean Air Energy Education Initiative, De Silvestro’s visit supports Project Lift, a program spearheaded by the Arts and Science Council of Charlotte. As Charlotte area schools transition to a 12-month school schedule, spring and fall intersession- the long breaks that substitute for a part of summer vacation- are being utilized for innovative, new STEAM programming.

“It’s cool that these students have the opportunity to learn about nuclear energy through hands-on activities that include both engineering and art,” said Simona. “Partnering with AREVA and the Nuclear Literacy Project to support Project Lift is a fun way to educate students about clean energy.”

South Carolina-based nonprofit, the Nuclear Literacy Project, has partnered with Project Lift and Druid Hills Academy to develop a community-based STEAM project that explores local energy systems, as well as related career opportunities. De Silvestro’s visit kicked off a school-wide project that tracks an atom from a nuclear reactor as it generates heat and electricity, then follows the flow of electrons all the way back to the classroom.

Volunteers from two local energy companies, AREVA and Duke Energy, will help lead STEAM-focused activities with students at Druid Hills Academy over the next two weeks.

“With the opening of our new headquarters in Charlotte, we are proud to collaborate with the Nuclear Literacy Project to support clean energy awareness and STEAM education,” said Kim Clark, chief commercial officer at AREVA. “These kinds of initiatives are precisely what our partnership with Simona De Silvestro and the Nuclear Clean Air Energy team is all about as we prepare to meet future demand for STEM resources.”

The STEAM project will culminate during the Spring intersession with a collaborative public artwork display, which reflects the students’ understanding of energy systems in the community.

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Suzanne Baker

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