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|The Science Museum of Virginia is on track for an exciting fall as it revs up to host the touring exhibition “Hot Wheels™: Race to Win™.” Guests have the green light to accelerate their understanding of STEM concepts while the exhibition makes a pit stop in Central Virginia beginning Saturday, Sept. 25.
The exhibition offers a look at the thrilling world of racing, investigates the scientific process for designing super-fast cars and helps guests who have the need for speed understand how it is achieved. Using Hot Wheels® die-cast toys, guests can work together to build and test the fastest and safest speed machines on the planet.
“Hot Wheels are fantastic hands-on tools for exploring speed, power and performance, all of which include elements of science, technology, engineering and math,” said Virginia C. Ellett Director of Education Timshel Purdum. “The challenge, creativity and experimentation the cars, tracks, loops and jumps offer are critical for developing problem-solving skills and building confidence in future scientists and engineers. This exhibition reminds us that play is an experience, one that fosters freedom, self-expression, imagination and joy.”
Guests can participate in the Pit Stop Challenge in which they race the clock — and their family and friends — to change tires and refuel the car. A six-lane downhill speed track, booster power track, adjustable angles track and timing track are just a few of the ways guests can test their theories regarding cause and effect as well as force and motion. Real race car parts, authentic artifacts and captivating memorabilia round out the immersive experience that has guests observing, predicting and measuring potential and kinetic energy, gravity, mass, inclined planes, distance, averages and more. After leaving the Science Museum, guests are encouraged to continue discussing themes covered in the exhibition on their next road trip or with wheeled vehicles in their home.
“This family learning experience provides hands-on opportunities for parents to explain complex physics concepts in fun ways using the popular Hot Wheels™ toy cars as they experiment with different principles to see which makes a car go fastest,” said Dr. Jeffrey H. Patchen, president and CEO of The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, the organization that produced the exhibition.
Introduced by Mattel in May 1968, the 1:64-scale cars were innovative toys, which should come as no surprise as the original design team included an automotive engineer and rocket scientist. Before Hot Wheels, die-cast cars were not agile and didn’t have much variety. The thick-gauge wire axle coupled with a special plastic bearing reduced friction, which combined with a track designed by a female engineer allowed the original “Sweet 16” offerings to go faster and farther than existing vehicles at the time. Plus, the candy-colored metallic “Spectraflame” paint jobs made the toys eye-catching. But it was the groundbreaking wide-back-wheel design that made Hot Wheels the winner, and what lead to the famous brand’s iconic name.
Today there are more than 800 models and 11,000 variations of Hot Wheels, and more than four billion Hot Wheels die-cast cars have been sold. The popularity of the vehicles spans generations, and has even jumped out of the toy box as hobbyists have created 20 life-size models of Hot Wheels cars since 2001.
“Generations of children have enjoyed the thrill and speed of racing with Hot Wheels,” said Julie Freeland, Senior Director, Global Live Events & Attractions, Mattel. “This interactive exhibit now brings families together to learn what brings racing to life in a fun and memorable way.”
To complement the exhibition, the Science Museum will have race-themed demos and educational activities throughout the building as well offer digital STEM materials to support guests’ drive for knowledge from home.
“Hot Wheels™: Race to Win™” is included with Science Museum admission. Discounts are available for teachers, military personnel and EBT cardholders.
During the run of the exhibition, guests are invited to bring a new, individually packaged Hot Wheel to the Science Museum when they visit. The Science Museum will donate them to elementary students visiting on field trips from under-resourced schools, along with a STEM activity to help the students explore engineering, force and motion from home. Donation bins will be located at the Guest Services desk.
“Hot Wheels™: Race to Win™” was produced by The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis and Mattel, and is locally sponsored by TowneBank and Woodfin. It is on display at the Science Museum until Jan. 23, 2022.
The Science Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Guests are encouraged to purchase tickets in advance of their visit at smv.org.
Read more about the Science Museum of Virginia in this article.