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NORTH HOLLYWOOD : Students Learn Through 4th <i> R</i> of Schoolwork

Reading, writing, arithmetic and race cars. Race cars? Yes, race cars.

Race-car driving has been added to the curriculum at Strathern Street School in North Hollywood. More than 400 children participated in the new activity Tuesday when they cheered on classmates who were on the playground racing remote-controlled miniature cars.

The goal was to teach the students basic schoolwork.

Dan Moynihan, Chatsworth inventor of this new learning tool, says the concept is quite simple.

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“This is a hands-on approach,” said Moynihan, president and creator of FUNCAR (Fundamental Understanding Naturally Creates Academic Results).

For example, a race car driver has to learn to read so he can understand a driver’s manual. Students are also taught math when figuring out how many lug nuts they need to put together a car.

Moynihan said even geography lessons can be incorporated into the exercise by explaining where race car drivers travel throughout the world.

He says that using remote-controlled race cars is an effective way to capture a student’s interest. Once that is accomplished, fundamental principles can be applied. Moynihan tried out his idea for the first time Tuesday at the school, where his wife teaches kindergarten.

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Moynihan came up with the idea after participating in the school’s career day in May. At the time, he demonstrated how to maneuver remote-controlled cars and talked about his business in Chatsworth, Dan’s RC Stuff.

“From that day with the students, I decided to take it a step further,” said Moynihan. “We are constantly telling kids what they can’t do . . . to stay off drugs and not join gangs. I wanted to give them something that they were allowed to do, that they had fun doing, and that they would learn from at the same time.”

So Moynihan sought corporate funding, which was provided by American Racing Equipment and GE Sanyo.

“I thought it was a great idea,” said Rick Pruden, president of American Racing and the father of two children.

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Each student who attended Tuesday’s race was required to write an essay on why school is important. Students were allowed to write in their native language, and winning essays earned the youngster a chance to race. There were 14 winners total.

Rosemarie Kubena, vice principal of Strathern Street Elementary School, hopes the FUNCAR program will eventually be implemented throughout the Los Angeles Unified School District.

“The kids love the cars. While they’re playing they don’t realize that they’re learning at the same time,” she said. "(The FUNCAR program) proves that you can teach students anything as long as you motivate them to learn.”

Moynihan plans to visit the school once a year, sending written assignments quarterly between visits.

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