AUSTIN (KXAN) — They’ve been keeping kids entertained for nearly 50 years. Now the company that makes Hot Wheels, Mattel, has teamed up with the University of Southern California Rossier to design lessons for teachers and parents. The Austin Independent School District will be using the curriculum called “Speedometry” with fourth-graders, and the Del Valle Independent School District has started using it.
Students in the after-school program at Hillcrest Elementary put it to the test Monday. Justin Huerta, 7, has seen what the cars can do at home.
“Loop-de-loops, go faster, go slower, even fly.”
The second-grader knows there are a few factors at play.
“Weight and speed,” he said. But when asked if he realized he was doing physics, Justin replied, “What’s physics?”
USC Rossier Associate Professor Julie Marsh and another mom on the Mattel Children’s Foundation were just talking one day and thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool to use Hot Wheels as a teaching tool?”
“You teach them how to be scientists using toys they know and love,” said Marsh. “We’re asking [students] these questions about why is the car going faster when the ramp is higher, and they’re discovering on their own these principles about how gravity pulls and energy is greater at the top.”
Even though one might assume boys are more interested, during the testing phase girls were just as excited.
“Seeing this iconic toy turn into a learning tool is something that’s just amazing,” said Robert Goodwin, Mattel’s director of corporate affairs.