Mount Airy City Schools has partnered with Richard Childress Racing (RCR) and The Science House at North Carolina State University to help students develop an academic-to-career pathway.
The partnership began in late August. Talks and meetings began with Eric Warren, a Mount Airy High School alum and director of competition at RCR, with just a conversation and idea.
Over the past year, “this incredibly innovative idea has bloomed into something that will continue to place MACS of the cutting edge of education,” said MACS Superintendent Dr. Greg Little.
The partnership’s goal is to be able to show students when and how they will use what they are learning in the classroom later in a career. “When students ask why, we want to be able to have the answers for them,” Little said.
The science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) academics program is the leading reason for this partnership. Little used Austin Dillon flipping his car going 200 mph into the audience at a NASCAR race at Daytona earlier this month as an example of how physics saved his life.
The groups — the schools, RCR and NC State — recently met to train and invent new ways to guide students.
This innovative partnership is unlike any other partnership in the nation, in that all three partners are purposefully aligning their process and involving students beginning in elementary school, the leaders noted.
This partnership will create and explore STEM careers as well as build foundation science and math skills needed to be successful in STEM careers.
The research is clear that students who see their educational work as directly related to what they will do in the future provides a great avenue for student motivation, said leaders.
The teachers collaborated with NASCAR to show how math and scientific concepts can be applied every day to preparing for the next race. “This is not only exciting for the students but creates real world application that they can then go to RCR and actually test out their ideas,” said Kim Morrison, executive director of Curriculum and Instruction.
Morrison also added that the teachers are extremely excited to have data sets and software that is in the industry that they can bring into their classroom and use.
“Students will be doing more than solving problems that sit on a test but they will be solving problems that RCR is grappling with. Students will be working on problems that PhD’s from MIT are struggling with,” said Morrison.
Teachers and students will be able to go to RCR to solve problems when school starts.
Teachers will be going in the early fall and students shortly after; all of them problem-solving with these experts.
“We want to encourage our students to dream big and this partnership really allows us to encourage that,” said Little.
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