Track and Explore

TRACK AND EXPLORE Program begins its fourth year on May 6


Track and Explore is an innovative partnership between Adrian College and Michigan International Speedway, designed to enhance education in STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The program returns in 2015, increasing in scope, capacity and impact since its modest beginnings as a biological survey of one small area of wetlands.

Since its inception, more than 4,150 middle school students from 23 schools have participated in the field trip portion of Track and Explore, with more than a dozen Adrian College students researching and giving science lessons under the supervision of two faculty members, and with the support of the Institute for Career Planning.

Adrian College expects more than 1,400 students again this year to take part in the program after more than 1,300 local students participated in 2014. 

“MIS is truly thrilled to partner with Adrian College to bring something so unique and impactful to our area,” Curtis said. “We are proud to showcase both Adrian College and MIS in a way that might surprise a lot of people by providing outdoor educational programs and experiences such as Track and Explore for all of the children in our area. Here in the beautiful Irish Hills, the outdoors means a great deal to all of us at MIS so we hope these experiences help open kids to take active roles in addressing the complex environmental challenges facing our world, and instilling in them a sense of responsibility for and stewardship of the open spaces, waterways and natural resources.”

The students are already gearing up for a successful 2015 season. Adrian College has reserved numerous dates in May to introduce more students to the program.


May 6  Addison and St. Stephen 
May 7  Morenci 
May 8  Madison
May 11  Davis
May 12  Columbia Central
May 13  Springport
May 18  Adrian
May 19  Adrian
May 20  Jackson Prep
May 21  Dundee
May 22  Onsted
May 26  Onsted
May 27  Grass Lake
May 28  Keicher


This unique partnership in sports allows hundreds of school children and college students from the region to benefit from learning about the ecosystem of the Irish Hills area, but also experience nature and conservancy that could contribute to their future work as scientists.

The program now uses most of the Speedway’s 1,400 acres, including 900 acres of natural area, as an outdoor-education classroom for middle school students, and as a practicum for Adrian College science and education majors who conduct research, create science lessons tied to state standards, and lead environmental-science field trips at the site. 

Adrian College students have already found and photographed biological samples and developed displays for the MIS offices, enlisting Adrian College art majors for illustrations.

There are six educational components of the program:

Trail: Identifying Flora and Fauna of the Irish Hills Area – Students will use the MIS nature trail to observe native plants and invasive species that thrive in the Irish Hills. Students will learn the techniques of scientific observation.

Water Quality: Scientific Testing of Water Quality and Why it Matters – Middle school students will be invited to observe and participate in the ongoing testing of water quality. Students will test for chlorine, nitrate, phosphate, and pH from a variety of area water samples. They will also learn how water quality is closely linked to the health of both flora and fauna in an ecosystem.

Animal Encounter: A Closer Look: An Exploration of the Animals Living in Southeastern Michigan – Students will have an up-close and personal encounter with the wildlife that populates Southeast Michigan. They will learn how animals care for themselves in the wild and what we should do to protect and preserve their natural habitat.

Microscopes: Looking Through the Lens: Observation on a Microscopic Level – Students will learn the appropriate use of microscopes to examine pre-made specimens and samples from area water sources.

Race Track: Observe the Physics of the Track – See the inner workings of the Michigan International Speedway, the fastest track in NASCAR. The tour goes around MIS, allowing students to see the 18 degree bank, touring pit road and Victory Lane.

Physics: Test the Physics of different angles on speed of a racecar – Students will explore the relationship between mass, speed and acceleration. They will also explore aerodynamics, forces and friction and how it affects the cars as they go around the track.   

The goal of these lessons is to take the opportunity to connect the experiences and environment of MIS with the Michigan Benchmarks for the grades 5-8. The program will supplement and enrich the objectives that the classroom teachers already teach the students. 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 located pre and post field trip activities for the teachers so that they can continue to relate the MIS experience to the lessons in the classroom.

TRACK AND EXPLORE activities will take place at Michigan International Speedway in the Graves Family Campground and the Champion’s Club presented by CP Federal Credit Union. Programs will conclude May 28.

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.

If you would like to sign your school up for Track and Explore you can email or call 517-265-5161 ext. 4424. You can also follow the program at or on facebook at

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