Local high school interns get memorable trip to Daytona 500

Big Race - Daytona
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Multiple agencies came together to provide high school interns with a memorable trip, along with developing future engineers.

Mount Airy High School, Richard Childress Racing and the Burroughs Wellcome Fund promote learning experiences based on Science Technology Engineering Art and Math or STEAM. 15 RCR interns from Mount Airy High School normally go to NASCAR events at Charlotte Motor Speedway. But the group recently took their first trip to the Daytona 500. It’s an experience senior Chase Pruett will not forget.

“It’s a two and a half mile track and they are going so fast it is incredible,” said Pruett. “And the amount of people, it’s a full house. It’s a completely different experience.”

With their pit passes, the group walked along the infield of the Speedway, toured the complex and even got a peek of the Fox Sports broadcast. According to lead STEAM teacher, Garrett Howlett, the main goal of the trip was to show how successful race teams blend science and technology.

“I really do think they enjoyed it and got exposure to it,” Howlett said. “A lot of these kids wouldn’t get exposure if it wasn’t for this.”

From the stands, the interns also saw the horrific Ryan Newman crash on the last lap of the Daytona 500. Sophomore Morgan Hiatt described what she saw.

“I just saw people cross the finish line and then I saw a car in the air and the windshield was flying off of it,” said Hiatt. “No one cheered even though the race just ended.”

When the students returned to Mount Airy High School, Howlett reviewed what the interns learned on their educational trip.

“So during the race from the start to the end, what is the crew chief doing, the race engineers, what are they doing,” asked Howlett?

Mount Airy High School Senior Daniel Troutman responds.

“Adjust the cars to make them better for the conditions.”

And you can’t make the adjustments without a good science and technology foundation.

“I love it doing it. I love learning,” said Troutman. “I don’t know exactly which type of engineering I want to go into, but having RCR lets me see all aspects of engineering,” Troutman added.

Every other Friday, the students go to RCR to learn how engineers and scientist build cars and study fuel efficiency.

Mount Airy High school graduate and current RCR Chief Technology Officer, Dr. Eric Warren is credited for starting the Richard Childress Racing internship at Mount Airy High School.

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