Building on the programs that have grown and developed with the Grand Prix since 2012, both the Grow Up Great and Fifth Gear programs combine a mathematics and science curriculum through real-world applications in motorsports to spark interest in DPS students for careers in science, technology, engineering and math. The programs are funded by a grant from the PNC Foundation under the stewardship of the Detroit Public Schools Foundation.
This curriculum has been incorporated into the classrooms of the participating schools in both programs over the last several weeks as the excitement builds for the return of the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix, May 30-June 1.
These students will then take what they have learned in the classroom and watch it come to life in a real racing environment at the Grand Prix. Leading motorsports organizations, like Plymouth-based Ilmor Engineering, which partnered with Chevrolet on the development of the current Verizon IndyCar Series engine, and New Hudson-based Pratt & Miller Engineering, which designs, builds and manages many of Chevrolet’s race teams, will work with the students as they participate in hands-on activities at the Grand Prix. On Thursday, May 29, hundreds of DPS students will get the opportunity to visit the Raceway at Belle Isle Park to continue their education as they take part in demonstrations focused on key concepts in racing like friction, gravity, aerodynamics and safety.
“We are excited to enhance the partnership with PNC in 2014 to bring hundreds of Detroit Public Schools students to the Grand Prix for the third consecutive year through the Grow Up Great and Fifth Gear programs," said Bud Denker, Chairman of the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix. “Learning about science, math and technology through racing creates such a unique learning opportunity and it’s our privilege to once again welcome the students to the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix to extend their classroom learning in a real racing environment."
While the Fifth Gear program was developed in 2012 specifically for fifth-grade students’ experiences around the Grand Prix, PNC continues to participate in the racing education program in 2014 through its signature philanthropic initiative, Grow Up Great (image of students attached). PNC Grow Up Great is a multi-year, $350 million initiative designed to improve early childhood education – particularly in underserved areas. Through Grow Up Great, PNC emphasizes the importance of the first five years of life, which research has shown is critical to long-term achievement, by helping families, educators and community partners provide innovative opportunities that enhance learning and development in a child’s early years.
“PNC's ongoing support of the Grand Prix racing education program reflects our strong corporate commitment to education in Detroit and throughout the PNC footprint," said PNC Regional President Ric DeVore.
PNC launched a three-year Grow Up Great program in science and the arts for DPS preschool students in 2010 with a $2.1 million commitment, and extended the program for two additional years and another $950,000 in 2013.
Over 700 DPS students are expected to attend the May 29 activities on Belle Isle with over 250 fifth graders representing 10 schools through the Fifth Gear program and over 450 children from 15 schools in the Grow Up Great initiative ready to broaden their knowledge through racing.
Detroit Public Schools’ robotics teams will also be part of the activities on Belle Isle race week. Participating school teams include Cass Technical High School, East English Village Preparatory Academy and Cody-Detroit Institute of Technology. Each team will bring robots that they have created to display on site and they will also help serve as mentors to the younger students.
“The Fifth Gear program allows students to see science in action, and to understand the connections between what they have learned in class as they built a model race car to the actual real-world applications of scientific concepts that are essential in the competitive world of auto racing," said Alycia Meriweather, Executive Director, Office of Science, Detroit Public Schools. "Experiences like this create interest, encourage creativity, and quite possibly could inspire a student to explore these topics further. We are definitely thankful to the partners that make these types of opportunities possible for our students."