An All-American Soap Box Derby partnership with Ohio schools is picking up traction.

Derby officials announced Wednesday that the Gravity Racing Challenge, a competition among schools, and an accompanying summer camp are expanding beyond Akron to include other major cities.

The competition supports STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) programs by encouraging elementary- and high school-age students to design, build, market and race derby cars.

President and CEO Joe Mazur said the Soap Box Derby plans to develop curriculum that would accompany the educational program and competition.

“This time next year, that will be ready to roll,” said Mazur, who expects bids for the project to go out in February.

Mazur also plans to continue the expansion of the Gravity Racing Challenge, launched in 2010 with 12 students from Akron’s National Inventors Hall of Fame school forming two teams. Last year, more than 90 teams from across the country competed.

This year’s race will be held May 17 at Derby Downs.

Gravity Racing Challenge events also will be hosted this summer in Cleveland; Columbus; Rochester, N.Y.; and Culpeper, Va.

Funding for participating schools is available through donations by local and national organizations, including Fleming’s Steakhouse, Waterloo Transmissions, GPD Group, AAA, Time Warner Cable and the PNC Foundation. Schools interested in participating may contact the derby at 740-817-0345.

Doug Livingston can be reached at 330-996-3792 or