By Jeff Pederson – Pedal Down Promotions
(PEDAL DOWN PROMOTIONS) March 21, 2018 – Forging a vital cross-curricular link between math and technical education, a new course at Thorp High School in Thorp, Wis. will provide students the opportunity to get their hands dirty in the high-speed world of short-track racing.
Developed by first-year Thorp High School Math Teacher Jarrett Davidson, the new Math in Racing and Mechanics course is set to debut at the school this coming fall.
The Champion, Mich. native grew up around the sport racing and hopes the new course will help to relate his love and appreciation of the sport to his students.
“I have been around racing my whole life,” Davidson said. “My first great memories of racing are our family tradition of going to the Dickinson County Fair in Norway, Michigan and watching a relative race at Norway Speedway. I met my fiancé in 2013, and her father worked on a Sport Mod near Kewaunee.
“From there, I further developed my interest in racing and watched a lot of dirt track races at 141 Speedway, Luxemburg Speedway and Manitowoc Speedway,” he said. “When I first came to Thorp, I saw that there were no cross-curricular classes and noticed that a lot of the students are very talented with hands-on industrial-based occupational work. Based on that, I decided I wanted to develop a class that would incorporate both math and technical education, and racing was the first thing that I thought would spark interest with the kids.”
Davidson, who holds a Bachelor of Science degree in math education from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, says the Math in Racing and Mechanics course will feature a multi-faceted focus designed to appeal to broad range of students.
“There are two semesters of the class that were developed for two different types of students,” Davidson said. “The first semester is based on having the students build a gaming computer and a racing simulator. We will then look at the math and physics ideas behind the car, teach the kids how to drive a car on a simulator on an oval and dirt track and work on precision in measurements within the race car.
“During the second semester, we will bring in an actual race car and have the students tear everything apart minus the engine,” he said. “The students will then put the car back together based on how they want their car to be set up. We will then have a racer come in and test out the car on a local track, which is yet to be determined. The students will get feedback on the car and have the opportunity to make changes.”
The current Owen, Wis. resident says the course could also prove to be a gateway to college-level motorsports-related programs for interested students.
“My goal for this class is to give students a first-hand look into racing, and to give them more opportunities to have pathways outside of our high school,” Davidson said. “I have been in contact with the University of Northwestern Ohio (UNOH), which has a high-performance motorsports program, and this course could get these students prepared to go there.”
The type of race car the class builds will be based largely on the level of support Davidson gathers from area race tracks.
“The type of race car the students build will depend on what tracks decide to sponsor and help out,” Davidson said. “If I have a dirt track that is willing, we will probably get a Street Stock, so that we can convert from dirt to asphalt, and give the students a challenge. If no dirt tracks contact me back, I will probably go with an older Limited Late Model and get the students into the higher level right away, if we can make the money side of it work.
“We will hopefully compete at any track that is willing to support us,” he said. “If we had, say Golden Sands Speedway in Plover sponsor, for an example, we would be more than willing to show our support and drive down there.”
Along with constructing the car as part of the regular coursework, students who enroll in the Math in Racing and Mechanics course will also be given the opportunity to serve as pit crew members on race nights.
“The driver is to be determined, but I have many people in the racing community that are racers and would probably be willing to hop in the car,” Davidson said. “As for the pit crew, I will have the students mainly be the pit crew with some help from some other people from the racing community.”
To cover the costs associated with fielding a race car, Davidson is currently seeking sponsorship from interested race tracks, area businesses and individual donors.
“We have called other tracks, and I have been making calls to different companies to see if they will sponsor,” Davidson said. “I also have a Go Fund Me page, and we will be raising money from 50/50 raffles if we can at local tracks. I also am working with our local Ford dealership to do a “Drive One for Your School” fundraiser.”
With the class slated to launch in less than six months, Davidson says anticipation for the class is already running in high gear.
“I would guess that we will have a cap of 15 students per class, but we are open to having more,” Davidson said. “I am anticipating about 10-15 students in each class.
“The kids love the concept behind this class,” he said. “A lot of the teachers really liked the idea and it made a quick progression through the Curriculum Steering Committee and got approved by the Thorp School Board right away.”
For more information on how to support or sponsor Thorp High School’s Math in Racing and Mechanics course, contact Jarrett Davidson via email at email@example.com or by phone at 715-669-5401, ext. 2100.
Donations to the Math in Racing and Mechanics fundraiser to cover course expenses can be made by visiting www.gofundme.com/racing-class-in-high-school-funding.
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