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A group of Cork students became the first in Ireland to combine Motorsport and STEM education subjects when they took part in the new Go Girls karting initiative.

Girls from Ballincollig Community School and Christ King Girls Secondary School, learned about the science behind Motorsport before getting behind the wheel themselves last week at Kartworld, part of Adventure Park in Watergrasshill.

It was the first ever staging of the Go Girls Karting initiative, which is run by Motorsport Ireland and Formula Female and will ultimately provide over 1,000 girls aged 13-16 from all over Ireland with similar sporting and educational experiences.

At Watergrasshill, the students completed interactive workshops which aligned practical STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) subjects with Motorsport. This included building a data logger to analyse kart performance, which they could really relate to once they saw the data live, as well as changing tyres and recording tyre temperatures and pressures.

Organisers said that the girls got most competitive during the pitstop challenge, with Ballincollig setting the benchmark time for other schools to beat at 54.45 seconds on day one, only for Christ King to set a new pitstop challenge record of 45 seconds the next day.

Speaking afterwards, a lot of the students expressed surprise about the amount of science and Maths which goes into preparing and running a kart. Many of them said they were now keen to do the computer science module available to them in fourth year.

One student said : “It was really informative. I enjoyed seeing the science behind karting and the different statistics about women in Motorsport. It was a great day.”

Another said: “I enjoyed learning that there are a lot of areas in Motorsport other than driving. The Maths was the most surprising because I didn’t realise there was so much Maths involved in Motorsport. I found the engineering part (building the data logger) very interesting and informing. I learned that there are so many different career opportunities to do with STEM.”

One of the students attending the programme was 16-year-old Ballincollig Community School student Kayleigh Cole. The 2019 Munster champion, and holder of third place in the Irish Karting Championship, offered insight into how work done off the track was important for on-track performance, before providing an exciting demonstration of her driving skills.

After the classwork, the girls got to put into practice what they had learned in the classroom – and compete against each other and their talented classmate – during an introduction to kart driving on the track.

Go Girls is led by Ireland World Cup hockey star Nicci Daly, who has worked as a data engineer for the Indycar Team, Juncos Racing. She’s also the niece of former F1 and Indycar driver, Derek Daly.

Following the completion of the two-days, Nicci said: “The mission of Go Girls is to ‘engage, educate and empower’ females to compete in Motorsport and to promote the importance of STEM, the role it plays in the sport and possible career opportunities. It was so encouraging to see so many of the girls expressing an interest in taking up subjects like computer science which they would not have considered before.”

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