Aaron Hale, a Honda Performance Development engine development engineer, took time out of his busy schedule to introduce a kindergarten class of 20 to the Honda racing spirit at Northpark Elementary School in Valencia, CA on June 3, 2009.
Principal Jon Baker and teacher Nicole Bennett were excited to have a professional engineer present the children with a new and exciting project and potential career opportunity.
The Race Car project allowed the children to explore their motor, coordination and creativity skills. The children were given the following materials and asked to build their own race car:
- Paperboard for the chassis
- Four push-pops for the wheels
- Drinking straws for the axles, and
- A balloon for the jets, so the car could move
The children faced possible rain, a rough road course and potential equipment failure. Despite it all, the students still wanted to race each other and kept trying.
Aaron explained his role as a race car engineer to the students, as well as how engineers make and fix things. A student stated, "Engineers drives trains, too". Aaron stated that was true, and explained that there are many different types of engineers, and that he is a race car/engine engineer. When he showed the Acura American Le Mans Series poster, the children were wowed! It was rather cute.
Aaron explained what a chassis is, and pointed out where the parents, children and dog sit in the chassis. He demonstrated how the wheels work, and how they can make the car go faster and farther. Aaron presented a fixed-up paper race car and let it go while it did wheelies. The children were so excited, and wanted to get moving on their race cars. There was even a race competition after the students had completed construction of their cars.
There were some exciting moments on the track during the race events, as the students faced the emotional dilemma of whether or not they would race their cars and expose them to potential damage.
Five-year-old Jasmine McCormick, an up-and-coming female driver, took first place among the students. Jasmine displayed maturity for her age. She listened to the instructions well, was ready at the start of the race and followed the rules. Aaron, on the other hand, was a DNF (Did Not Finish) due to a sudden right turn and crash into the wall before the finish line. The other races were canceled due to rain.
The day was a rewarding experience for Aaron and the students, as it provided Aaron with the opportunity to give something back to the Valencia community, while providing the students with a sense of accomplishment. We look forward to more involvement with the schools and community.