Green car competition set for April 26
Will Sanpete schools power
their way to victory again?
By Linda Petersen
Mar. 29, 2018
Students at several local schools are getting ready for the annual Utah Greenpower Exhibition which will be held at the Utah Motorsports Campus in Tooele on April 26.
Last year, Sanpete schools swept the top four spots, showing the Green Power program, where students build and race a single-seat, electric car, has been very popular in the county.
Twenty schools are participating this year.
At the race, the qualifying heat lasts about 45 minutes and then the main heat goes for around 90 minutes.
Winners are determined by how many continuous laps a car completes. At least three drivers take turns on the course. The car that has the fastest lap gets extra points.
In addition to racing the car, participants must make a video introducing themselves and their role in building the Green Power car.
“The kids have to learn the best speed to race at to be the most efficient,” Tiffanie Baker, Ephraim Middle School’s GEAR UP coordinator, said.
Ephraim Middle School was last year’s fourth-place winner (tying with Uintah and Clearfield high schools). Students at Ephraim Middle School are working on making modifications to last year’s car to improve their performance this year. They are also giving the car a fresh coat of paint.
Utah State University sponsors the Green Power program to inspire students to go into the engineering field.
“They found that while a lot of kids would sign up for engineering classes in college, many would quickly become overwhelmed and drop out,” Baker said. “With programs like these, the kids are much more comfortable with engineering before they reach college.”
“There are just so many opportunities out there these days,” she said. “A lot of those opportunities are in engineering and computers.”
At Ephraim Middle School, the number of students involved in the Green Power program varies but is usually a core group of about six. About half participated last year and are taking what they learned to improve their car.
“They think it’s great that they get to drive a go-cart around the parking lot,” Baker said. “The program is very student driven,” whether her pun was intended or not.
At all of the schools, teachers, generally Career Technical Education (CTE) teachers, are paid an hourly rate by GEAR UP to run the program after school. The groups all purchased kits and built the cars from there.
Gunnison Valley Middle School has about 11 students in the program, about half of whom participated last year, Samantha Dyreng, GEAR UP coordinator, said.
Last year was the first year GEAR UP offered the program at the school. At the state competition, despite a tire that picked up a screw in the preliminary race which resulted in a flat tire, Gunnison Middle School took first place.
Last year’s Manti High School car took third place at state but went to international competition (as a result of a first-place state finish the previous year) against 24 other teams in England in May and competed on the Grand Prix road circuit at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The Manti team took fourth place overall despite major electrical problems which caused the motor to completely fail during the preliminary heat.
The team had a strong second heat and was able to use its score from that heat to achieve the fourth-place finish.