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The Autocross: Lime Rock’s 1/2-mile technology classroom

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More photos at end of story

As many of our fans are coming to realize, Lime Rock Park is very, very busy between the big racing events. Everybody from car clubs, drifting groups and bicycling organizations to driving clubs and people signing up for LRP’s open-enrollment autocross days keep us quite busy. Heck, we even host weddings, receptions, graduation parties and fundraising galas (congratulations CMHA on Saturday’s success!).

Now add “educating the educators” to Lime Rock’s list.

On Thursday, May 30, the track hosted and helped execute a teaching program called Racing Newton: The Technology and Physics of Auto Racing.

It’s a professional development opportunity for technology education teachers to obtain skills, knowledge, lesson plans and curriculum for incorporating “Common Core of English Language Arts and Mathematics” standards, as well as science standards, through a STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) model. The professional development integrates the skills and abilities inherent to auto racing, such as the physics of force, speed, energy and motion, along with engineering, math, critical thinking and creative inquiry based problem-solving.

So more than 20 high school teachers came to Lime Rock for a morning session of vehicle dynamics classroom work, followed with an afternoon on the autocross and skidpad. The program was organized by Harold Mackin, associate consultant, agricultural science and technology education for the Connecticut Department of Education.

Here’s what they accomplished...
* Conveyed Newton’s three laws in the context of auto racing
* Used scientific explanations that emphasize evidence, have logically consistent arguments and use scientific principles, models and theories; e.g., the magnitude of the change in motion can be calculated using the relationship F = ma, which is independent of the nature of the force
* By enriching content knowledge in STEM, teachers can energize the learning experience and enhance inquiry-based investigations and methodologies
* Learned to promote best practices for student achievement -- including scientific -- through research-based teaching strategies

It was a fun, enlightening day, and congratulations to all the teachers who, by driving our BMWs (and the Skip Barber Driving School Mazda RX-8 on the skidpad), put “F = ma” to work!

More photos below...

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