ENNIS — Students from around the Metroplex came out to the Texas Motorplex in Ennis on Thursday to take part in the Ten80 Education Student Racing Challenge.

The Student Racing Challenge is a project-based curriculum for students in grades six through 12 built on themes of motor sports and safe, sustainable transportation. Students worked together in teams to compete through challenges that directly parallel the arduous preparation of NHRA teams.

Top fuel NHRA Driver Anton Brown, who will be competing in the fall nationals with weekend, spoke to the students before the event kicked off. Brown told the students that he uses math and science each time he comes to the racetrack.

“Racing is a big probability problem,” Brown told the students. “You are competing against 20 different teams, going at 320 MPH and wining by thousandths of a second. In the end there is only one world champion who (races) effectively each and every time.”

Once he had captured the students’ attention, Brown challenged each of the students to excel not only in school, but in their everyday life.

“My challenge to each and everyone of you is to not to just get a good grade in school. Try to just to understand how to apply that in your everyday life. If you do that you are that much ahead of the game,” Brown said. “Trust me, success is right there in front of your face and you can grasp if you can apply what you learn.”

One of the first events that students participated in taught them to understand the inner workings of a radio-controlled race car. As students examined the parts, they learned the engineering and math that makes all the parts work together and the model car run.

“This event shows the practical use of math and science,” Ennis High School Teacher Lynn Mangus said. “It is terrific and a great opportunity right in our backyard.”

Mangus added that the organizers of the event are showing students how if they work hard and study hard, subjects such as math will pay off in the long run.

The next event gave students the opportunity to learn how to operate their vehicles. Students worked in teams to compete in a relay race driving the car from one side to the other.

“So far it is pretty awesome. You get to learn about how school can affect your career as a whole,” Ennis High School Senior Caleb Duncan said. “There is always that misconception that school will never apply in life but in reality it really does. It shows how eventually everything you learn will help you one way or another.”

Duncan said math is helping him to prepare for life outside of high school when he got to the University of Texas at Arlington next year.

The final event centered on the topic of marketing. This helped to further develop critical thinking skills as students in teams of five had to create a team identify a brand for themselves.

Ennis High School Senior Ryan Wagliardo said that it is pretty interesting to learn how math, science, engineering and technology apply to everyday situations. Wagliardo said he plans to future his education in these areas by studying to be an engineer at Texas A&M.

Through the successful competition of these events and by answering trivia questions correctly teams earned points. The team with the most points got to take a second radio controlled race car back to their school. Following the day’s events the students will continue their STEM education throughout the year and will return to compete in the spring.

The U.S. Army and the National Hot Rod Association teamed up to bring this event to the Motorplex. Chemical Engineer and CEO of Ten80 Education Terri Stripling said the Army has sponsored has 10 schools in the Dallas area to bring this program to their schools and clubs.

The Texas Motorplex will host the NHRA Fall nationals this weekend from Sept. 19-22. Gates open at 8 a.m. with two rounds of professional qualifying, at 2:15 and 5:15 p.m., on Friday, Sept. 20, along with sportsman qualifying throughout the day. Saturday, Sept. 21 is packed with sportsman eliminations and the final two rounds of professional qualifying at 11:15 a.m. and 2:15 p.m. Gates open at 8:30 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 22, with pre-race ceremonies at 10 a.m. and final eliminations getting under way at 11 a.m. The Texas Motorplex is located at 7500 U.S. Highway 287 in Ennis.

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