The Great Electric Car Race is sponsored by the Faculty of Education at Queen's University in Kingston Ontario. Initially, vehicles were powered by automotive starter motors and a single automotive starting, lighting and ignition (SLI) battery. This was intended to keep costs to a minimum without limiting creativity. After the initial event in 1996, several teams decided to enhance their vehicles with motors boasting better continuous-duty performance and efficiency. There were 24 vehicles on the starting line for the 1997 event, 22 registered competitors and two demonstration vehicles, including the EVCO Electrathon demonstration car.
It is hoped this challenge will be both educational and motivational for students. It should engage young people in the investigation of transportation systems, as well as the designing, producing , testing, and evaluation stages of the design process. An awareness of the impacts of technology on the environment and transportation alternatives for the future should also be investigated.
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It might have been the school's first appearance at Queen's Univerity's Great Electric Car Contest, but a team from St. Peter High School in Fallingbrook almost drove away with the big prize on May 24.
Named Team Rusty for the scrap metal and old parts used to build the school's entry, a team of four students was given the task of designing and building an electric car powered by a 12-volt car battery. The St. Peter team settled on a three-wheel vehicle, complete with a starter motor, steering system, brakes, windshield and a roll bar.
The contest at Queen's University involved navigating the electric car around a challenging 1.3 kilometre course for two hours. The object of the endurance competition was to drive the car around the course as many times as possible on a single charge of the 12-volt battery. The electric cars wre also judged on their efficiency of control, technical design, quality of workmanship and aesthetics and finally an oral presentation to the judges.
When all was said and done, the St. Peter team captured fourth place in a field of 22 competitors from across the province.
"It was great fun," said Grade 12 student Adam Cowling, who drove the electric car for St. Peter High School. "I was quite nervous about the design the night before the contest, but everything worked out."
Cowling said adjustments to the electric car were made right up to race time. Unlike some entries that failed to climb a steep hill of navigate hair-pin corners, the St. Peter creation endured for the entire two-hour competition with only a few problems. The car was entirely designed by the student team under the supervision of transportation teacher Pius Gratwohl and Michael Scott, the head of St. Peter's design and technology department.
Scott says the electric car contest is an excellent opportunity for schools to implement new broad-based technology teaching methods that enable students to integrate their studies in science, mathematics and technology into a working creation.
"The team used a hands-on, experimental approach that draws on knowledge acquired in several academic courses," said Scott.
The black and white photo which accompanied the article carried this caption:
ON THE ROAD: St. Peter transportation teacher Pius Gratwohl, students Justin Bernard, Jason Olsheskie, Adam Cowling (seated in car) and Amy Jobst and head of the school's design and technology department Michael Scott captured fourth place in Queen's University's Great Electric Car Contest on May 24. (Unfortunately, the photo from the paper did not scan well enough to justify reproducing it here).
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