Milton Hershey School Makes the Racetrack a S.T.E.M. Classroom
Last week, 40 Middle Division students spent a day at Maple Grove Raceway in Mohnton, Pennsylvania, learning about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (S.T.E.M.) careers with the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA). The Youth Education Services (Y.E.S.) program brings students educational opportunities to expand their knowledge on S.T.E.M. through hands-on learning and exploration.
To start their fun-filled day, students attended a presentation that focused on careers in the automotive industry. Panelists included leaders in the automotive field—the CEO of Pep Boys, the owner of Tasca Ford, a representative from MAC tools, and a professional from Western Technical College. The discussion went beyond career opportunities to the importance of continued education, perseverance in the workplace, and a strong work ethic.
The students who attended are interested in pursuing a career in S.T.E.M. and now know how they can apply what they like to learn in the classroom to a career in racing.
“While at the NHRA event, I learned about how cars work and why some people race. I also learned about different cars, parts, tools, and so much more. The most interesting part of our trip was watching the race and going to the different pit stops for each racer,” shared Jocelyn Crist, MHS Eighth-Grader. “The Ford and Pep Boys pits were very informative. Every time the cars raced past you, you could feel the rumble of the bleachers and ground, it was something I’d never felt before.”
Many of the students were excited to engage with their classroom material in a real-world environment. Before leaving the racetrack, the students were able to watch a live race, where the cars reached up to 285 miles per hour.
“I had the opportunity to learn why auto mechanics are important. Before going on the field trip, I didn’t know why they are such good jobs to have, but now I do.” shared Austin Bentzel, MHS Eighth-Grader.
After returning to campus, the students were required to share about their visit in their career portfolio—discussing a career they learned about that interested them. This trip plays into the school’s larger Career and Technical Education program, which provides all MHS students with career exposure opportunities. In Middle Division, students explore many different career topics and prepare to choose a career pathway once they enter Senior Division.
“Field trips like this expand on the curriculum taught in the classroom by giving students the opportunity to apply that learning to real-life situations,” shared Zak Marinkov, MHS Middle Division CTE Teacher. “Seeing first-hand how individuals use S.T.E.M. in their own professions not only helps students gain a better understanding of topics, but it also allows them opportunities to consider S.T.E.M. in their own lives both inside and outside of the classroom.”