ORIGINAL CHATTANOOGA GREEN PRIX SCHOOL PARTICIPANTS
Soon, more Hamilton County students will be building and racing electric power cars, as local nonprofit green|spaces looks to expand its program thanks to a grant from the Lyndhurst Foundation.
Last fall, the electric power race car program launched in eight local schools. It was aimed at teaching students design and engineering skills as they geared up for a competition this spring.
Green|spaces sent participating schools a kit with materials and instructions, but it was up to the students to build the cars and find ways to make them faster than their competition.
"Even though we work in an environment with multiple project opportunities, this one is unique in so many ways. To see students working collaboratively throughout the entire build process was amazing," said Sue Williamson, team adviser for the Stem School, in a statement. "Our team was comprised of mostly ninth-graders, so they went from not knowing each other to learning to work and grow together."
The students had to work collaboratively and troubleshoot what might happen during the March 24 race, The Chattanooga Green Prix, she added.
"They learned so much math and science as they had to troubleshoot issues leading up to race day," Williamson said in a statement. "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 what they would do different to modify the body to make it more aerodynamic."
Lyndhurst has committed to fund up to 10 cars — five in middle and high schools and five in elementary schools — but green|spaces is seeking local companies to sponsor more programs, in addition to the original eight. More than 24 other public schools have expressed interest in participating in the program.
"Our goal is to become a regional hub for races in Chattanooga," Dawn Hjelseth, director of development at green|spaces, said in a statement. "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."
Sponsors will have their company name or logo displayed on the cars, "just like NASCAR," according to a news release. Funds will be used to provide a reusable starter kit to a school. Elementary car kits cost $3,000 and middle/high school kits cost $6,000.
"The renewable energy and energy service-related sector is one of the fastest growing in the nation with solar job rates growing at 17 times faster than the U.S. economy in 2017. Major car companies such as Volkswagen have reported that their entire car fleet of 300 different cars will have electric options by 2030," Michael Walton, executive director at green|spaces, said in a statement. "For green|spaces, this is an opportunity to host a program that aligns perfectly with our mission of promoting sustainable living, working and building by creating a pipeline of students who are not only sustainably-minded [sic] but who are also developing a skill set for jobs that will be needed in the near future."
Those interested in sponsorship opportunities can contact Hjelseth at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact staff writer Meghan Mangrum at email@example.com or 423-757-6592. Follow her on Twitter @memangrum.