With an investment from the Energy Department's State Energy Program (SEP), the Utah Governor’s Office of Energy Development (OED) funded the Greenpower Electric Car Challenge to engage young students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The challenge provided a hands-on learning opportunity for middle and high school students to gain relevant STEM experience through building and racing a single-seat electric car. SEP funds support STEM-related programs that train future energy professionals and provide pathways to developing a skilled workforce for the future.
As part of the challenge, participating schools engaged in activities aimed at developing the students’ skills in design work, mathematics, communication, and teamwork. Students received a car kit and access to a self-paced, online course, created by a professor at Utah State University, to assist in the development of the car. Students worked in teams to plan and build a car, acquire potential sponsors, complete coursework, create videos, and facilitate the logistics of transporting the car from the school to the track. The teams were also encouraged to research current transportation challenges in Utah to discover how the Greenpower Challenge could help resolve issues, allowing students to gain an understanding of the importance of project beyond the scope of the classroom.
At the end of the school year, participating schools competed for the most efficient car. The race began with 45-minute qualifying heats to determine advances to the final round. The teams that advanced to the final round then raced in a single heat for 90 minutes. Cars were scored on the number of continuous laps with extra points awarded for cars completing the fastest laps.
With participation from 20 schools in the 2018 challenge, Gunnison Valley Middle School took home the victory. Gunnison was awarded a $1,000 stipend for Greenpower race supplies with which the school plans to purchase an industrial-grade welder to aid in future STEM projects including upcoming electric car challenges. Another competition is expected for the upcoming 2018-2019 school year.
The Utah OED developed a Greenpower video as an outreach tool to expand the challenge and engage as many students as possible through the challenge. Check it out here.
The Greenpower Electric Car Challenge is administered by Utah State University, in partnership with OED, Siemens, and Greenpower USA.
The Weatherization and Intergovernmental Program Office’s State Energy Program (SEP) provides funding and technical assistance to states, territories, and the District of Columbia to enhance energy security, advance state-led energy initiatives, and maximize the benefits of decreasing energy waste.