BEEVILLE, TX — STEM programs throughout area schools help students learn how to work on robots and apply engineering in ways they wouldn't think was possible. In Beeville, one school has taken their STEM program to a whole new level. By incorporating electric cars.
The St. Mary's Academy Charter School wanted to integrate a new way of engineering to their students and was introduced to the Greenpower USA company. Greenpower USA provides the 'how-to' on building different kinds of electric cars. St. Mary's Academy was given a $7,000 grant to buy two electric cars. The white one, Goblin, was $2,500 and the black car, F24, was $5,000.
St. Mary's started their race program with these electric cars last year, and this year, they are taking their final products to the competition in Houston. Kenneth Nagle, the instructor for the Race Team, says this is an after-school program that students can choose to be a part of. In order to stay on the team, they must keep a higher grade percentage.
Nagle says the best part of the class is seeing the students learn how to build these cars and actually get in them to race. Students, or the cars mechanics, start out with an instruction booklet on how to build the car. From the frame, electrical wiring, and designing the skin, the students do all of the work. "We have 6th grade on the F24, and then we've got 4th and 5th grade on the white car, the Goblin," says Nagle. They work on the cars every Tuesday and Thursday after school, and have only been working on these cars for about a month.
The Goblin takes two batteries and can go up to 18 MPH. The F24 can go up to 35 MPH. The Greenpower USA Electric Car Challenge will only be open to the middle school aged groups, which means only the F24 will get a chance to compete. However, Nagle says the 4th and 5th graders will still get a chance to show off their mechanical work, "they are gonna let us go and showcase our car and uh if we're lucky they'll be able to drive it around the track as an exhibition."
The Electric Car Challenge will take place in Angleton, south of Houston on November 17 and 18. St. Mary's Academy is the only school in the Middle School division.
Nagle says the cars will be complete by the end of October, and he hopes that other area schools will also consider starting their own program so the students at St. Mary's has other local teams to race against, instead of traveling across the state.