"The World Center of Racing," is transforming into the "World Center of Learning."
With the help of Volusia County educators and sponsorship from Home Depot, Daytona International Speedway and DAYTONA USA have launched a unique, one-of-a-kind educational program.
The DAYTONA USA Educational Program, which made its debut in September, was developed by the Volusia Country School Board and consists of physics labs set up in the NEXTEL Cup Series garages (schedule permitting) as well as a Speedway tour trivia exercise and a scavenger hunt in the Goodyear Heritage of Daytona at DAYTONA USA.
The program has already hosted hundreds of students and has at least 16 schools from Central and North Florida that have either completed or plan to participate by the end of the year.
"Daytona International Speedway isn't just a motorsports entertainment venue," Track President Robin Braig said. "With the innovative DAYTONA Educational Program, this historic racing facility can also be a place of learning for students of all ages."
"Teachers from Volusia County were extremely excited when asked to develop a science program for DAYTONA USA," said Teresa Northrup, Science Specialist K-12. "This program easily demonstrates the connections between physics concepts such as momentum, friction, and force of impact and real world applications. Volusia County teachers believe that students of all ages and ability levels can benefit from this awesome experience because the hands-on activities are both rigorous and relevant. A special thanks goes to Robert Hernandez, Karen Wheeler, Bonnie Sagrave, and Erica Rutzler for their hard work in creating a wonderful learning adventure for students."
Inside the NEXTEL Cup Series garages, the students work on three physics labs that involve center of mass, mechanical advantage and friction. They'll work hands-on with inclines, car jacks, real stock car tires and different textures.
When transporting to and from the historic infield via trams, students complete a Speedway tour trivia exercise where they pull information from the tour driver to answer questions about the history of the facility.
Inside DAYTONA USA, students participate in a scavenger hunt in the Goodyear Heritage of Daytona, where they gather information and understand that there's more to the sport of auto racing than what they watch on television every weekend.
Krista Dunn's 8th-grade class from Landmark Middle School in Jacksonville recently participated in the DAYTONA USA Educational Program. Dunn said the program has energized her students about studying science.
"They were so excited about just the possibility of coming here," Dunn said. "I even had kids trying to pay for the trip before we even decided to do it. They've been thrilled. I've also had no problems getting chaperones for this trip."
The DAYTONA USA Educational Program, which meets Sunshine State Standards, has future field trips already planned. The DAYTONA USA Educational Program costs $10 per student for $15 including lunch. Teachers interested in utilizing the program should call DAYTONA USA Group Sales at (386) 681-6350.