Miami Springs Senior High School’s Engineering Club hit the pavement on March 1 when they hosted their Inaugural Mini Monster Jam fundraising event in what used to be the schools Driver’s Ed parking lot.
The club, named the Ten/80 NASCAR Club, welcomed students from both the high school level and the middle school level. They had a total of eight competitors and plenty of spectators to cheer them on.
Tents were set up as a makeshift pit stop for racers, not to mention provide shade for any last-minute adjustments to their cars. All activities centered around the track, where all the action took place. The races began with a qualifying round, then a first round, semifinals and eventually finals.
“My favorite part of racing was the thrill of trying to push my truck to its limit,” said competitor Joshua Santos. Santos, a seventh-grader who attends Doral Academy Middle School, owns two cars and enjoys the hobby very much. This was, however, his first official race. It appeared to be his lucky day. Santos, 13, walked away from the competition having won both the racing and the freestyle divisions.
The first-place award was a bit of a prank, but was all in good fun and received with nothing but smiles. Santos was crowned with a pink tiara that said “princess” and a pink wand to go with it. He didn’t mind his gag gift considering Santos smoked the competition, which included students much older than him and he did, of course, earn bragging rights.
“My favorite part of this event was winning but mostly it’s being around people with the same hobby, being able to share thoughts and experiences with each other,” Santos said. “I broke some parts giving it all I had and now I have to buy a new pair of tires for my truck, but it was worth it.”
While it indeed was a fun Saturday racing cars out in the Miami Springs sunshine, the event was born out of a need for funds for MSSH’s Ten/80 NASCAR Club.
The determination of two MSSH students — 11th-grader and club president Austin Aguiar and 10th-grader and vice president Henry Chaviano — brought the club to where it is today. Last fall the two friends, who are more like brothers, came up with a proposal to become the official Engineering Club at Miami Springs. Aguiar and Chaviano made classroom presentations to recruit others and it worked. What began with just a few club members at the beginning of the year has grown to approximately 30 students today.
“I am so blessed to have these students from Miami Springs Senior High and I was a very proud teacher today watching their ideas come to reality,” said club sponsor Jessica Greenwood. “I’m very proud of them for working so hard to make it a success. They started it all and really have poured their blood, sweat and tears into this club.”
Back in October the Engineering/Ten80 NASCAR Club participated in the Green Flag Invitational at the Homestead Speedway. MSSH’s team, named #RC Kings, won first place. They were invited to compete in Nationals this May in Charlotte, N.C. The national trip is estimated at $600 per student, hence the big push for fundraising.
According to Greenwood, this is the first year that a school in South Florida is participating in the Ten80 Education/National STEM League and the Miami Springs Golden Hawks are proud to be that team. The STEM initiative, in association with NASCAR and the Army, is a racing challenge where students learn the science behind racing and modify RC model cars to compete in regional and national competitions.
The national competition also includes engineering projects such as the Aerodynamic design, the Renewable Energy Project, and Robotics. Students are judged on their business proposals and team identity. It’s really like a small business where students collaboratively work to gain sponsors in order to fund their team goals for the year.
The long-term goal for the club is to increase student interest in pursuing a career in STEM and to give students the hands-on experience to better prepare them in those fields. What starts off as a hobby for students can take them down a path that has endless opportunities.
“I hope the club continues to flourish and continues to educate students about STEM and about racing,” said Austin Aguiar. “I know our determination and willpower will always lead us to success.”
The next competition for the club will be on Tuesday, March 11 at the Homestead Speedway for the White Flag Invitational. The Ten/80 NASCAR Club meets after school every Tuesday and every Thursday in Ms. Greenwood’s classroom. If you are interested in becoming a sponsor or simply learning more, you can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.