The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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July 22, 2013

Scouts help NASCAR driver build a race car

THE SUMMIT — While the Boy Scouts take a break from ziplining, rock climbing and mountain biking, they are invited to exercise their minds at Technology Quest, a science and technology center, where they can even help a NASCAR driver assemble a race car.

Scott Lagasse Jr., driver of the No. 8 Boy Scouts of America Nationwide Series car, has been on site during the Jamboree, helping Scouts assemble a race car that he will soon drive.

Lagasse said he and his crew wanted to think of something cool for the Scouts to do, and someone came up with the idea of letting them build a car.

Although they were a bit behind schedule Friday because of lightning, Lagasse said he had no doubt they would be able to finish assembly and have the car ready to run Saturday.

He will race the car in the upcoming weeks, and he said he plans to post on Facebook and Twitter to let the Scouts know, so they can see a car they helped build actually out on the track.

“It’s been a lot of fun. It’s selfishly very rewarding. I was a Scout as a kid, but because of racing, I was never able to Eagle.”

He was bouncing around all over the place, signing autographs, doing media interviews and interacting with the Scouts.

“It’s a huge honor to do it,” Lagasse said.

Alex Gough, 15, of Chicago, and Cristian O’Neil, 15, of Los Angeles, helped Lagasse mount the motor of the car.

They both scored some autographs and Gough was especially excited, as he said Lagasse was one of his favorite NASCAR drivers.

Technology Quest encompasses many areas of science and technology, including aviation, space, biotechnology, life sciences, communications, information technology, engineering, math, forensics, physical sciences, renewable energy and robotics.

NASA, Geocaching and LEGO were just a few of the exhibits set up for the Scouts to check out.

Dr. Mary Stevens, volunteer director of Technology Quest, said this area is a great way for the Scouts to have some hands-on fun and get excited about science.

One exhibit set up by Virginia Tech showed the effects of a zombie outbreak; Scouts who visit the tent can be “tracked” to see how fast the theoretic virus would spread.

The West Virginia University Forensics Department had a crime scene set up for Scouts to solve the mystery — was it a homicide or suicide? What clues could be found at the scene?

Scouts could also walk across Oobleck, a type of slime that has properties of both liquids and solids, set up by the Mind Trekkers with Michigan Tech.

The name Oobleck came from Dr. Seuss and the material itself can be walked across quickly, but if someone stands for too long, he or she sinks.

“This is Scouting for the next century,” Stevens said. “We need more people in tech careers, with leadership and values from the Boy Scouts of America.”

She said she hoped these interactive activities will help Scouts become interested in these fields in what she calls “High Adventure for the Mind.”

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