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Curriculum Update


Taking Lessons from NASCAR

The science teachers zipped through the speedway course with trepidation, taking hairpin turns around cones as they pulled out of skids along the waterslicked surface. Sitting beside each of them in the passenger seat was an instructor, giving them lessons they would take back to students in their district-if they survived, of course.

In the fall, middle and high schoolers in the 135,000-student district of Charlotte-Mecklenburg (N.C.) will enjoy a new fusion of driver's ed, math and physics based on a partnership between the school system and NASCAR legend Richard Petty that administrators say is unlike anything done anywhere else.

Based on the theme "Physics of Safe Driving," the twelve science teachers' driving lessons with instructors from the Richard Petty Safe Driving Program will be used to design a state-aligned curriculum mixing lessons on safe driving and how to react in dangerous situations with the science and physics of automobiles.

"All kids want to drive, so if you can teach them about something they're interested in and teach them math and science at the same time, it's a win-win situation," says Cindy Moss, the district's director of math and science instruction.


Students Sink Teeth into a Different Kind of Lunch Box

In February, second-grade classes from John Ruhrah Elementary School in Baltimore, Md., received a slew of bright orange lunch boxes during a special event at the National Dental Museum in Baltimore, and inside them no sandwiches or sugary snacks were to be found.

As part of a new initiative launched by the Maryland Children's Oral Health Institute (MCOHI) to help elevate oral health education for students, the John Ruhrah second-graders-in addition to 5,000 other children throughout Baltimore City Public Schools-received these "educational lunch boxes" complete with toothbrushes, toothpaste and floss, as well as tips for eating right and proper brushing and flossing techniques.

Terrelle Gray, principal of Arlington Elementary School, one of the first schools to use the kits, says the program is making students as well as parents become more aware of the food that they eat and also helping to address the nation's fast food addiction, or "chicken box society," as she puts it.

The oral health literacy program includes a teacher's guide for incorporating the lunch box into class lessons through such activities as making your own toothpaste and learning about cavities. Pending funding, many participating schools hope to continue to use the lunch boxes in the 2008-2009 year.