PNC Bank Fifth Gear and Grow Up Great Programs Showcase Racing to Over 600 Detroit Public Schools Students at the Grand Prix

After weeks of learning about math, science, engineering and technology through racing, over 600 Detroit Public Schools (DPS) preschoolers and fifth graders took part in hands-on learning activities on PNC Bank Free Prix Day, Friday June 1, at the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix.

In partnership with the Detroit Public Schools Foundation, preschool students in the Grow Up Great program and the fifth grade students in the Fifth Gear initiative had a chance to see the excitement of world-class motorsports come to life both on and off the track. Founded by the PNC Financial Services Group, Inc., PNC Grow Up Great is a bilingual, $350 million, multi-year initiative that helps prepare children – particularly underserved children – from birth to age five for success in school and life.

With assistance from Plymouth, Michigan-based Ilmor Engineering, the activities designed specifically for the students at the Grand Prix highlighted the lessons they’ve learned over the last several months and opened their eyes to the possibilities of careers in math and science.

In addition, the students had a chance to witness practice and qualifying action from the four different racing series competing at the Raceway at Belle Isle Park street circuit.

“The Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix is an important event for Detroit and the entire region,” said PNC Regional President Ric DeVore. “PNC Free Prix Day will kick off a terrific weekend of world-class racing and family fun. The Fifth Gear program and PNC Grow Up Great will provide the opportunity for more than 600 DPS students to experience this special event while learning about the math and science behind racing.”

Grow Up Great preschoolers learned all about the parts of a car in the “Pin the Part on the Car” activity at the Grand Prix, while they also learned the abstract concepts of friction and gravity through demonstrations that illustrate what happens when a car races down the track.

Other activities for Grow Up Great students included safety demonstrations and a chance to try on a mini fire suit, like the kind worn by drivers competing in the Grand Prix.

Fifth Gear students had a chance to learn about gears and engines, and even made their own human-powered engine to see energy at work. They also raced mini cars down a gravity track and participated in other activities that utilize friction and aerodynamics.

“The learning modules that have been implemented in our classrooms through the Fifth Gear and Grow Up Great programs came to life for our students as they personally experienced science, technology, engineering and math through an exciting day of racing,” said Karen Ridgeway, Superintendent of Academics for Detroit Public Schools. “By providing this opportunity to our students, educators and parents, PNC Bank and the Grand Prix team are truly investing in Detroit Public Schools. On behalf of the entire district, we thank you for offering innovative methods of educating our students.”

Even some of the older DPS students had an opportunity to participate at the Grand Prix as members of high school robotics teams displayed their robots for the Fifth Gear students on Belle Isle so they could see another way in which math and science can come to life.

“It’s terrific to see the excitement and the wonder on the faces of these students when they get a chance to see the lessons they’ve learned put into practice on the race course,” said Bud Denker, Event Chairman of the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix. “The Grand Prix thanks PNC Bank and Detroit Public Schools for allowing us to help show the Fifth Gear and Grow Up Great students all that racing has to offer through math, science and technology.”

The Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix is a 501(c)3 organization and a subsidiary of the Downtown Detroit Partnership. The event will be held June 1-3, 2012 and will include the Chevrolet Indy Grand Prix presented by featuring the cars of the IZOD IndyCar Series, the Chevrolet GRAND-AM 200 at Belle Isle presented by the Metro Detroit Chevy Dealers with the sports cars of the GRAND-AM Rolex Series, the Cadillac V-Series Challenge presented by the Metro Detroit Cadillac Dealers featuring the cars of the Pirelli World Challenge Championship Series and the Firestone Indy Lights Series. Partners for the 2012 Grand Prix include Meijer, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), MotorCity Casino Hotel, PNC Bank, Quicken Loans and For more information, visit and follow our social media pages at and



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