Mom: “How was school today?”
Child: “It was great; we are currently racing go-karts and prepping to compete in a regional regatta competition!”
Mom is left speechless.
I’m not sure many can relate to this scenario. High school programs of today are dramatically different from the programs of yesteryear. Not only are students learning from textbooks, but they are applying real-world skills directly to real-life projects. It should go without saying that green energy is the future, but today’s work-based learning opportunities for students to create green projects really emphasize the importance of implementing reusable energy solutions.
Students in Laguna Creek High School’s Green Energy Technology Academy (GETA) are green-energy enforcers. Juniors in GETA use their skill-sets and creativity to build solar electric go-karts and boats to participate in two Spring Annual Regional Competitions.
EV Go-Kart Demonstration and Competition: During the 2015-16 school year, after the construction of seven solar electric go-karts, GETA juniors powered up their carts at an electric vehicle charging station and Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE). The experience spanned several weeks and was sponsored by the Regional Industry Cluster of Opportunity (RICO) Grant. In addition to racing, students collected data on each of their vehicle’s speeds on various surfaces, braking distances, turning radii and accelerations to fine-tune their competition entries.
A partnership between Sacramento Municipal Utilities District (SMUD) and Valley Vision provided solar panels and a five-port EV charging station for the students’ go-karts.The backing and donations highlight the infrastructure of the EV industry and serve as the focus for the curriculum that supports this hands-on, competition-based, exploratory form of education. Looking ahead, juniors during the 2016-17 school year will learn the rudiments of welding in order to modify the size of the vehicles for larger and taller participants.
2015-2016 Northern California Solar Regatta: The GETA juniors’ hard work and go-getter mentality did not end there. On May 13, one team of juniors, which included five guys and one girl, opted for an alternative vehicle challenge. Their project involved building a solar electric boat with standardized solar panels and battery capacity to race against 18 other Northern California schools in sprint, slalom and endurance races at the 2016 Northern California Solar Regatta (NCSR) at the Rancho Seco Recreation area.
During the day-long competition, GETA juniors raced and presented their boat’s technical design and their knowledge of sustainability and solar power. In the end, GETA juniors won second place, set the course record in the sprint race, won the artistic design award and were recognized for their boat’s technical design and presentation expertise.
After graduating from LCHS, GETA students will have the skills necessary to succeed in a plethora of related-energy jobs in fields that include engineering, manufacturing and construction.