Engineering students participate in NASCAR challenge

Instructor Jay LeCroy, left, and local engineering students watch as two of the students race radio controlled cars on Friday.

Instructor Jay LeCroy, left, and local engineering students watch as two of the students race radio controlled cars on Friday.

Students from the LeCroy Career Tech Center’s STEM Academy were having a lot of fun racing radio controlled cars on Friday, but the activity was all in the name of education.

STEM Academy’s physics and engineering class was one of 10 programs in the state chosen by the U.S. Army to participate in the NASCAR Student Racing Challenge.

Kits to build the miniature vehicles were provided along with the program’s commitment to the curriculum for grades 6-12 centered on motorsports and sustainable, safe transportation.

Students on Friday were participating in time trials, to see who would drive the remote controlled race cars in the first competiton, on Oct. 5 in Newnan, Ga.

Other students in the class will help with other aspects of the project, such as web design, marketing and presentation.

Allison Hayes, who was helping STEM Academy secretary Kacie Long keep track of times, said it was obvious some of the students were better drivers than others.

“Some of them are good; some of them are bad,” Hayes said and added that the most common problem seemed to be trying to drive the cars too fast. “I like that we all got the opportunity.”

A course was set up in the parking lot behind Clanton City Hall. Students from all six Chilton County schools were participating, as well as one homeschooled student.

Cole Riley of Maplesville is serving as the student team manager.

STEM Academy instructor Jay LeCroy thanked Clanton Mayor Billy Joe Driver and other city officials for letting the students use the parking lot.

LeCroy said he always expects his students to be successful in competitions.

“From what I’ve seen from the students in Chilton County, they don’t surprise me anymore when they win,” he said.

Following the competition next month, STEM Academy will host a competition at the Clanton Conference and Performing Arts Center on Jan. 24, 2014, for teams from Alabama and Georgia.

Competition finals will be held at the NASCAR event in Charlotte in May 2014.

Long said she and all her fellow students are excited about the program.

“I’ve been talking about it non-stop,” she said.

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