A fifth-grade class at Mount Pleasant Elementary School in Smithtown spent Tuesday morning working on a hands-on project. On the surface, nothing about that was out of the ordinary. But, add Yankees manager Aaron Boone to the equation and, suddenly, it became a morning to remember.
Boone, as part of a promotion with HESS toy truck, visited teacher Jeff Faragasso’s class as students tested how fast windup HESS cars would run through student-built obstacle courses.
“For me, just selfishly speaking, it’s been a lot of fun to get out, meet kids, see all the innovation that they have and the teamwork that they’re showing in developing their projects,” said Boone, 45. “It’s really good to see kids engaged in school and the things that are going to help them in the job world when they get older.”
The project was part of the HESS STEM program, which combines elements of science, technology, engineering and math into a classroom activity. Students applied engineering skills to build ramps and obstacle courses out of cardboard and other materials. Boone selected the student team he felt built the most challenging course and the students took turns running the windup cars through the lucky piece of architecture. With Boone timing the runs on a stop watch, the students converted the time into feet per second, feet per minute, and miles per hour.
“Understanding physics, engineering, and how that all [connects] is key to the success of society for the future,” said HESS toy truck general manager Justin Mayer. “If we’re going to encourage kids at the elementary school age to really be passionate about it, that’s just great.”
As fun as the runs were, the main attraction was Boone — who stayed with the kids for two hours, watching them work and answering questions about life as a Yankee manager.
“They didn’t believe it when I told them,” Faragasso, 46 of Shoreham, said of Boone’s visit. “I told them I had a surprise for them. They didn’t know what it was. They thought maybe I was going to get some extra toy trucks or some new models. When I did tell them that he was actually coming in, they went nuts. It’s very generous that he gave his time to come down and support this.”
William Cavallo, a student in Faragasso’s class, was in awe of seeing the manager of his favorite baseball team in his school.
“That was really cool,” Cavallo said. “I told him that my car was going to go through the track and do a front flip at the very end, and it did.”