Meadowview Middle School’s Sustainable Transportation Education Program (STEP) team finished second overall and received a first place trophy on the most innovative/Designed solar charging station in state competition at NC State.
“I think it’s amazing to come out second on a first-time effort,” said STEP Coach Joe Whisnant. “The kids worked hard and they worked right up to the last minute. They stayed late in the afternoons to work and put forth an amazing effort.”
STEP is a collaborative project with North Carolina State University’s N.C. Solar Center in the College of Engineering and the College of Education. Its goal is educating middle and high school students on sustainable transportation, and the electrification of transportation.
The program also provides teacher training and curricula on electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), Smart Grid, alternative fuels, and careers in science, engineering, and technology. It’s curriculum is STEM-based and includes problem-solving, critical thinking, engineering design process and inquiry-based learning of real world issues.
Core team member Shelton Marshall said the electric car part of the competition got off to a rocky start for the Mustangs as their car clipped the side of the starting gate, warping their one and only car’s axle. Officials gave the team three minutes to fix the problem, which they did with an extra axle rod they had packed.
Teammate Cortland Hardy, who has spent a lot of time fine tuning the solar charging station, which generated the highest voltage for the batteries, said his greatest worry was the car or the charger were gong to get broken on the way down to Raleigh.
The team members also agreed they felt gratified officials described their use of plastic pieces they designed and produced with a three dimensional printer as “innovative” in contrast with other teams using wooden pieces for weights. Poster team members Khloe Smith, Candace Powell, and Jacey Flippen liked the way their poster presentation stood out among other entries, even though it didn’t place.
The final design for the presentation poster included steps made from corrugated plastic arranged as stair steps to emphasize the theme “STEP to Success.”
Lead researcher for the team’s technical report, seventh grader Kennadi Nester, said she felt “intimidated, very intimidated,” after first arriving at the competition and seeing huge charging stations. Later, she figured out she was looking at the high school division entries.
The competition is held in May each year at N.C. State with a range, speed, design, and plug-in with focus on battery technologies, and charging stations. In the batteries competition, students design and construct for the race, a solar powered charging station for their vehicle. It is an open invitation competition for high school students as well.
Teams constructed a solar charging station and a car which met specific size and width rules. Students had to write a technical report on what they have done. Many of the parts for the Mustang’s battery charger were designed and made by students with the school’s three-dimensional printer.
Students involved with the team include Paul Bolen, Danielle Bowman, MacKenzie Collins, Jesse Edwards, Jacey Flippen, Allan Maldonado, Sheldon Marshall, Breanna McNabb, Kennadi Nester, Candace Powell, Saul Rico, Khloe Smith, Lacie Parries and Courtland Hardy.
David Broyles may be reached at 336-719-1952 or on twitter@MtAiryNewsDave.