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Front Page - Friday, June 15, 2018

Green|spaces raising funds for student electric car contest

Elementary through high school students compete in cars they built in the Chattanooga Green Prix. - Photographs provided

After the inaugural electric power race car competition this spring, green|spaces is expanding the Chattanooga Green Prix to allow at least 20 more schools to participate next school year, thanks to a matching grant offered by the Lyndhurst Foundation.

Last year, eight local elementary, middle and high schools were selected to participate in the Chattanooga Green Prix, hosted by green|spaces as a pilot group to design and build the electric power race cars.

Howard High School, Dalewood Middle School, East Lake Academy, Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy, Chattanooga School for Liberal Arts, Nolan Elementary, Woodmore Elementary and STEM School Chattanooga were in the pilot group.

“Seeing students working collaboratively throughout the build process was amazing,” says Sue Williamson, team advisor for STEM School. “Our team of mostly ninth graders went from not knowing each other to learning to work and grow together.

“They learned a lot of math and science as they troubleshot issues leading up to race day. During the actual race, I loved watching how they were able to troubleshoot and find solutions to get the car back onto the track.

“Most importantly, they had a blast. My kids are already talking about how they would modify the body to make it more aerodynamic.”

For this coming school year, 24 other public schools have expressed interest in participating. Lyndhurst Foundation has committed to matching up to 10 cars – five for middle and high schools and five for elementary schools.

Green|spaces is seeking local companies to purchase base kits and give as many schools as possible the opportunity to participate. Sponsors will be recognized by having their logo on the car.

The kits are reusable year after year. The elementary car kits are $3,000, and the middle and high school kits are $6,000.

“The renewable energy and energy service related sector is one of the fastest growing in the nation, with solar job rates growing 17 times faster than the US economy in 2017. Major car companies, including Volkswagen, have reported that their entire car fleet will have electric options by 2030,” says Michael Walton, executive director at green|spaces.

“This is an opportunity to host a program that creates a pipeline of students who are not only sustainably-minded but who are also developing a skill set for jobs that will be needed in the near future.”

The program teaches STEM learning objectives by encouraging students to think creatively and work hands-on as a team. Members are assigned roles such as captain, parts manager, public relations and driver. Students quickly learn that they have to work together in order to finish the car correctly and on time.

“Our goal is to become a regional hub for races in Chattanooga,” says Dawn Hjelseth, director of development at green|spaces. “There are about 60 teams around the Huntsville area with many more in places like Florida, Texas and Indiana.

“Teams compete for points, with the top teams becoming eligible to compete in the international race in England. By hosting the races here in Chattanooga, we will eliminate much of the travel expenses, allowing many more schools to participate locally.”

Interested companies can contact Hjelseth at dawn@greenspaceschattanooga.org or 423 648-0963.

Source: Green|spaces