Morgan students learn from racing experts

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 27, 2017

By Cassie Thompson

Morgan Elementary School

LIBERTY — Morgan Elementary School third-graders know a lot more about racing after their latest science unit study of forces and motion.

Students built background knowledge about NASCAR and the related science concepts with the help of teachers Anna Allman, Audra Bradway and Nancy Salamone. Then they had a much-anticipated visit from NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver John Hunter Nemechek.

During his visit, Nemechek talked to students about how he uses forces and motion in racing. He presented all third-graders with Acceleration Nation T-shirts and STEM kits that included materials to build cars. Motor Racing Network announcer Woody Cain accompanied Nemechek and assisted in answering questions about forces and motion.

During the next part of the unit, students visited the NASCAR Hall of Fame. The third-graders completed a workshop on building cars using speed and acceleration. They also participated in a pit crew challenge, drove racing simulators and explored exhibits.

XFinity race car driver Tyler Reddick surprised the students with an autograph and photo session.

Students collaborated in a problem-based learning experience in which each group created and modified a model race car to increase its winning chances. Each group of students built a car and used their knowledge of force and motion to decide on modifications. They considered friction, force, speed, down force, drag, draft and aerodynamics.

They also consulted with John Hunter Nemechek’s car chief and mechanic through FaceTime about the modifications they could make to their cars. Students raced their cars to determine the best car design and then shared their findings about the most effective modifications through multimedia presentations.

Cassie Thompson is the instructional reading design coach at Morgan Elementary School.