Icebox Derby Inspires Young Women in Sciences

ComEd's first annual Icebox Derby inspired local teens to pursue opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

By Jenny Berg October 1, 2014, 7:30 AM EDT

The icebox cars could go as much as 15 miles per hour. Each team had its own name and hashtag. One example? #NerdsofSteel.

Photo: Josh Sears for agencyEA

On August 23, ComEd's first Icebox Derby took place outside the Field Museum in Chicago. The event saw 31 teenage girls racing one another in “icebox” cars that the girls made themselves from recycled refrigerators. The race was the culmination of a six-week program sponsored by ComEd, and the program was geared toward encouraging young women to explore opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math (also known as STEM). AgencyEA produced the event with ComEd and in conjunction with Leo Burnett, which handled PR, design, and the event's website.

Starting in July, the six all-girl teams began gathering once a week at the Flower Firm warehouse to complete different tasks that helped them assemble the cars. Week one's task, for example, was deconstructing a go-kart frame to build a chassis in three hours. The next week, the young participants installed electric engines in the cars; by week six, they were test driving the vehicles. All the while, the public could follow the teams' progress on a dedicated event website with video episodes hosted by microbiologist Louesa Akin.

On the actual race day in August, the teams gathered at the museum for a three-lap challenge that also included STEM-related projects. The girls' families sat in bleachers to cheer on the contestants. Every participant in the program was given $1,000 in scholarship money. And, in addition to winning the STEM Cup, winning team Sonic Doom won a six-day stay on the National Flight Academy's campus, where the girls participated in the school's Ambition Program.

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