Local kids win hydrogen car race
Eighth-graders at Eagle Valley Middle School know a good car when they see it. They also know how to build and run a good-driving machine. Teacher Michelle DeWine gave her gifted students an opportunity to build one. Those students took the challenge and recently participated in a race with their hydrogen cars – and they came out winners.On May 15, the two teams of Eagle Valley students competed at the National Center for Renewable Energy in Golden. The building had pretty tight security – the students and parents had to park in a special parking lot, then a bus took the kids to the site.
Students were given indentification badges before entering the building, which contained a display of future uses for hydrogen and an area spotlighting solar energy. But the real action was outside, where the races took place.One team consisted of Nick Brink, James McGoodwin and Keegan Hammond. That team took second place in the first round, but their car but experienced an electrical problem in the second round. “It’s a little like double elimination at a basketball tournament,” DeWine says. Still the students enjoyed the experience. “We saw actual fuel cell cars – they looked like regular cars,” Hammond says.
The big news of the day was Jaime Mann and Caitlin Yarger’s car. The girls went undefeated, winning the competition. This was the first competition the center hosted, so the girls were thrilled. “The best moment was winning,” says Yarger, adding classmate Hilary Henry couldn’t attend the competition, but did a lot of work on the car. To build a hydrogen car, the students started with a kit. Then, they decided whether to compete in the stock category, in which they build the car to the kit’s specifications, or the open category, where the racers make everything themselves and modify the kit. Both teams chose the open category. “We started working on it a few weeks before the competition,” Mann says.
In the beginning, students were also given the choice of building a hydrogen fuel car or a solar sprint car. All went for the hydrogen. “It seemed like a newer idea,” Yarger says. Students credited their parents for also putting in a lot of work to make the cars.”These kids worked very hard,” DeWine says. “They had to go through a lot of trial and error before getting that winning car.” she One thing is for sure, these students learned a lot about cars and that’s a good thing because driving them is just a few years away.