Track and Explore Recipient of Campus-Community Partnership Award
Track and Explore – a joint program between Adrian College and Michigan International Speedway (MIS) offering K-12 students a place to learn about science, technology and math at NASCAR’s fastest track – has won the Campus-Community Partnership Award by Michigan Campus Compact (MiCC).
The award recognizes an outstanding partnership that produces measurable improvements in the community, while also demonstrating a commitment to higher education. The award is designed to increase the number and effectiveness of other campus-community partnerships and enhance public awareness of and support for campus-community service programs.
As part of the honor, Adrian College and MIS were awarded $10,000 to continue to develop the Track and Explore program.
“Adrian College is thrilled with the recognition of Track and Explore, a truly unique partnership, and our work with MIS,” Adrian College Vice President and Dean of Academic Affairs, Dr. Agnes I. Caldwell said. “Our mutual goal of preparing future scientists and stewards of the Irish Hills makes our work gratifying and exciting. I look forward to the expansion of Track and Explore with MIS' help.”
The Campus-Community Partnership Award is given biennially by MiCC to one exceptional partnership involving a Michigan college or university and a community group; the monetary prize will be divided equally between campus and community partners.
In its second year in 2013, 1,300 local students toured MIS as part of Track and Explore to learn about the area’s ecosystem. The feedback has shown that the program has been an overwhelming success.
The students are already gearing up for a successful 2014 season. Adrian College has reserved numerous dates in May to introduce more students to the program.
“It is honor to be recognized by Michigan Campus Compact for our work with Adrian College and the Track and Explore program,” MIS President Roger Curtis said. “We have worked hard to utilize our beautiful 1,400 acres and setting in the Irish Hills of Michigan to help the region. We found an outstanding partner in Adrian College that has helped us do just that through Track & Explore. We are proud to showcase both Adrian College and MIS in a way that might surprise a lot of people by providing hands-on, outdoor, STEM educational programs and experiences for all of the children in our area.”
The program offers four educational components:
How’s the Water: Scientific Testing of Water Quality and Why it Matters – Students will test the Graves pond water for chlorine, phosphates and nitrates. Students will compare results with a small group at their table and with the group at large. They will compare the pond water quality with that of distilled and tap water. Students in seventh and eighth grade will also test the pH of the water.
Likely Suspects: Identifying Flora and Fauna of the Irish Hills – A walk through an MIS nature trail and identifying different tree and plant life.
Critter Encounter – The students will study the animals encountered at MIS. The purpose of this activity is to use an inquiry process to encourage students to think about the characteristics of the animals and the environment in which they live.
Track Tour – A tour of NASCAR’s fastest racetrack and the science behind its speed.
The goal of these lessons is to connect the experiences and environment of MIS with the Michigan Benchmarks for grades 4-8. The program will supplement and enrich the objectives that the classroom teachers are teaching. This opportunity will be used to further develop the scientific processes and inquiry processes that the students are learning in their classes.
The Adrian College Teacher Education students who developed these lessons also prepared pre- and post-field trip activities for the teachers to continue to relate the MIS experience to the lessons in the classroom.
Track and Explore also provides Adrian College biology students with opportunities to research and study animal and plant life on 900 acres of the 1,400-acre, environmentally rich Michigan International Speedway.
For Michigan International Speedway, the partnership has created a wonderful avenue for its brand promise to support environmental initiatives, community endeavors, education initiatives and worthwhile activities for kids, all in the backdrop of the fastest racetrack in NASCAR. It also exposes the racetrack to a new demographic in young children.