MIS and Adrian College to host 1,265 students


Michigan International Speedway and Adrian College have forged a partnership to help students learn science, technology and math at NASCAR’s fastest track. The two developed TRACK AND EXPLORE, a first-of-its-kind science center and science-related field trips.

The program begins its second season in 2013 and the feedback has shown it has been an overwhelming success.

In 2013, all the spots filled as more than 1,265 local students will come to MIS in the month of May as part of TRACK AND EXPLORE to learn about the area’s ecosystem. The fourth grade class from Onsted Elementary was the first group to take part this spring. MIS President Roger Curtis was able to take part in the program with his daughter Bailey, student at Onsted.

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.

“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.”

TRACK AND EXPLORE 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.

Adrian College students have already found and photographed biological samples and developed displays for the MIS offices, enlisting Adrian College art majors for illustrations. Now, in preparation for the next phase of the project, Adrian College students have developed a field guide and self-guided tour book for visitors.

There are four educational components of the program:

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 7th and 8th 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 trees and plantlife)

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 take the opportunity to connect the experiences and environment of MIS with the Michigan Benchmarks for the grades 4-8. 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 speedway’s infield media center. Programs begin this week and will conclude May 28; but will start again in full force in Fall 2013.

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.

There are no limits to where the future of this program could go. One goal would see the eventual building of a science, nature and learning center at MIS, open year-round for kindergarten through 12th grade students for experiential learning about local species and environmental history.

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