Racing for Knowledge


Enjoying the Student Racing Challenge: members of the Metro Warriors NSBE Jr. Chapter of Washington, D.C., at NSBE’s 2012 Region II Fall Regional Conference, in Norfolk, Va.

At NSBE’s Region II Fall Regional Conference in Norfolk, Va., last November, members of the Metro Warriors NSBE Jr. Chapter made it clear they were enjoying themselves.

“I can’t wait to get to practice. We are really learning a lot, and this is so fun,” said Ciarra Hargrove, aged 11. “We just created our logo and slogan.”

“The driving test was really cool,” said Jeremiah McCain, 12.

“Man, this is the most fun I’ve had in a long time,” said Shiloh Coleman, 12. “I can't wait until we get to Nationals and show our stuff.”

One of the main organizers of the NSBE Jr. activity was likewise enthusiastic.

“I had such a ball with your kids,” Terri Stripling told NSBE Bridge magazine. “They were just a joy to hang out with.”

Stripling is the owner and president of an organization named Ten80 Education, Inc., which is devoted to helping students and teachers understand science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and how these subjects affect the world around us. Last fall, NSBE joined forces with the group to hold a Ten80 “kickoff” program at the NSBE Fall Regional Conferences in Regions I, II and III.

The program is called the “Ten80 Student Racing Challenge: NASCAR STEM Initiative,” a curriculum and competition that is designed to help young people, especially underrepresented minorities and women, develop confidence and interest in STEM. Student Racing Challenge teams engineer mini-race cars that are one-tenth the size of the real automobiles, and along the way they learn about a wide variety of topics, such as mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, environmental engineering, computer programming, chemistry, computer-aided design, and animation.

Ten80 Education has been revising and improving the Student Racing Challenge program for the past 15 years. Stripling describes the program’s approach.

“We’re not up there teaching them lessons. We’re giving them an experience,” she explains. “We tell the students that today we are a mini racing team, we are an engineering team, we are this thing that is exciting.”

Stripling says even students who are not into cars or motorsports usually get excited about participating in the Challenge.

“If you look at our curriculum and our competition category, there’s a lot that doesn’t have anything to do with racing,” she explains. “And what we tell them is that engineering and business are team sports. Just because you don’t want to turn the wrench on the car, doesn’t mean that you don’t have a place in this activity.”

In the Student Racing Challenge in Region II last fall, for example, Ciarra Hargrove was a marketing person, Shiloh Coleman was a driver and Jeremiah McCain was a mechanic, all for Metro Warriors Team Alphas.

On to the Finals

Local NSBE chapters have worked informally with Ten80 for many years, but 2012 was the first year for the partnership at the Fall Regional Conferences. This came after Stripling met and talked with NSBE Executive Director Carl B. Mack (“Brother E.D.”) in 2011, when they both participated in CGI America, an event presented by former U.S. President Bill Clinton in Chicago. Then, last year, Morgan German, who is the Pre-College Initiative chair for NSBE’s Alumni Extension, contacted Ten80 about participating in the regional conferences.

The NSBE Student Racing Challenge program will continue at the Annual Convention in Indianapolis, in March.

“We will be holding three sessions (during the convention): one that’s four hours, on Thursday, and two three-hour sessions on Saturday,” Stripling says. “…One of the winning teams from Indianapolis will come to Charlotte in May and compete against all the teams in the national finals.”

The convention sessions will be open to NSBE Jr. members from all six NSBE regions.

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