Class project on wheels for Vail Valley students |

Class project on wheels for Vail Valley students

Lauren Glendenning
Gypsum, CO Colorado
Special to the Daily

GYPSUM, Colorado ” Nathan Roscoe of Eagle Valley High School crashed the electric car he and his classmates built on its very first test drive.

The senior helped build the car in David Russell’s pre-engineering class. The project has been in the works for three years because the class is only offered for one trimester each year.

Now, the finished car, which resembles a go-cart, is ready to drive and almost ready to enter state competitions through Electrathon America, the organization from which Russell got all of the specifications for building the car.

He first got the idea for building the car here after talking to a teacher in Fort Collins who did it.

“It’s a great project for learning about alternative energy and physics,” Russell said.

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Before the students started the actual building, they measured and designed everything on computers. From the mechanics of the car to the way it would look, “we tried to get as much of the real product figured out before we actually built it,” said senior Kyle Werner.

The project was something the students have been excited about every day. The trimester has already ended, but a lot of the students are spending their personal time to see the project through.

“It just kind of grows on you,” said senior Zach Ramsay. “You want to see it do well.”

The class broke into two different teams when Russell first presented the assignment to everyone. They wanted to get two different design proposals together and then work together on choosing the best one.

“There were plenty of arguments,” Ramsay said. “But then we’d come back and talk about it again and eventually come to a consensus about what would work best.”

The students really learned how to work together as a team, Russell said. He was impressed with the way everyone would examine each piece of the puzzle and figure out how to fix problems or make some of the designs and mechanics more efficient.

With Roscoe’s first test drive, he could tell after the crash that the wheels just weren’t aligned right.

“It was actually a good problem-solving process,” Russell said.

The students are working after school to put all the finishing touches together in order to get the car competition-ready. They have to get the car ready to drive as far as possible within one hour.

“Speed is part of it, but you want to have consistency,” Russell said. “If you travel 25 miles in 30 minutes and you run out of battery, that’s your score.”

The students don’t mind throwing in some extra personal time to see the project succeed. Nathan Roscoe said the class, specifically the project, has given him some of the best memories he’s had in school so far.

Werner’s little brother is going to be a freshman at Eagle Valley High next year, and Werner can’t stress enough just how much fun Russell’s pre-engineering class is.

“I told him to work out those pre-requisites and get into the class right away,” he said. “It’s one of those classes that when you’re done with it, you have something to show for it.”

Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or

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