UA continues partnership with Soap Box Derby through gravity racing challenge


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The University of Akron will continue its partnership with the Soap Box Derby on its Gravity Racing Challenge (GRC) STEM Team Competitions and STEM education programs.

Scheduled to take place in Akron at Derby Downs, the GRC program consists of teams of students, from grades three through eight and high school, who work in their classrooms and after-school settings to build Soap Box Derby cars to race against other school teams. The GRC is the Derby’s education-based STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) racing initiative that engages students in project-based learning, creative problem solving and team building.

The GRC for elementary and middle school students takes place with individual competitions in May to be socially distanced due to COVID, but we expect to revert back to the racing format for the high school competition this fall.  

The Mini-Car Program uses a 1/13 scale model-size Soap Box Derby car to teach various elements of STEM to elementary and middle school students. The STEM Mini Car and field trip activity books are designed specifically for students in grades three through six, is an experiential program that helps students learn such principles as gravity and friction through trial and error plus testing and analyzing results for racing.

“We are pleased to continue our partnership with the Soap Box Derby, which inspires young students to design, build and dream,” said John Wiencek, executive vice president and provost of The University of Akron. “Participation in Soap Box Derby programs drives innovation, imagination and creativity. We believe the experience of bringing to life their Soap Box Derby creations helps students understand that careers in STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – are not only within reach but are a path to making a difference in our world.”

“We are excited to partner with the University of Akron and continue building the Soap Box Derby’s education program and providing essential experiences,” said Mark Gerberich, ISBD’s president and chief executive officer. “This program will extend our continuum into higher level middle school and lower high school grades. This also promotes communication, critical thinking, creativity and collaboration in our STEM initiatives.”

About the Soap Box Derby

The Soap Box Derby is an international nonprofit organization whose mission is to build knowledge and character, and to create meaningful experiences through collaboration and fair and honest competition. The Derby’s Core Values and Drivers include: Youth Education and Leadership Development; Family Engagement and Enrichment; Honesty, Integrity and Perseverance; Innovation and Entrepreneurship; Teamwork and Collaboration; Mentoring; Volunteerism, and Commitment to Community. The Derby’s two youth initiatives are the FirstEnergy All-American Soap Box Derby racing program and the STEM-based Education Program, which provides educational opportunities for K-12 youth worldwide through Soap Box Derby racing. The Derby dates back to 1934, when the first All-American race was held in Dayton, Ohio. For more information about the Soap Box Derby visit

Media contact: Cristine Boyd, 330-972-6476 or