West Students Use New Engines to Build Supermileage Vehicles
Many local educators benefit from the support of the local Educare program. Educare is a nonprofit program that offers financial support to students and educators in Mankato Area Public Schools. Educare’s goal is to fund programs, activities, and materials that enrich students’ education.
Educare fund grants must address education in at least one of four main areas: Core Subject Tutoring, Technology Aided Learning, World Language Competency, and High Expectation Learning Programs. Within the Educare program, there are also two different types of grants that are awarded to programs in Mankato Area Public Schools.
The first type of grant is an Educator Initiative Grant, and individual or team educators can apply for this grant that is awarded once a year. This past May, Educare funded a total of ten Educator Initiative Grants within the district, totalling $63,146.
The second type of grant is the Ed Waltman Mini Grant; these grants cannot exceed $500, and they are granted throughout the year. Each year, Educare awards more than $10,000 in Mini Grants to educators within the district.
This past spring, West received one of the larger grant awards as an Educator Initiative Grant in the Technology department. As a result, students have the opportunity to create supermileage vehicles while learning a variety of math, science, and design techniques.
Educator Initiative Grant: Supermileage Vehicle Engines
An example of an Educator Initiative Grant that has enriched students’ education at West is the Technology department’s request for the Super Mileage Vehicle Competition and CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) Legislative Efforts. This grant provided funding to the Technology department to purchase six Briggs & Stratton Horizontal 3.5 HP Engines that are now used with twelfth grade students across the district.
Because of this Educare Grant, students are able to use these engines for their innovative designs as they compete to create a fuel-efficient supermileage vehicle. Last year, the goal for these supermileage vehicles was 200 mpg, and students successfully achieved the goal. This year, the goal has been raised to 300 mpg. In order to succeed with this project, Vocational Automotive Teacher Matt Lund said that “students need to explore scientific principles that affect fuel economy like friction, aerodynamics, momentum, and mechanical advantage.”
The supermileage vehicle project is a year-long activity that actively engages two sections of students in a hands-on way in every unit covered in the Vocational Automotive class. Lund has divided each class into teams in order to make the most efficient use of materials. The students on each team are provided with an engine, clutch, chain, sprockets and fabrication materials. Students must then use mathematical and scientific calculations to create their vehicle designs. As part of their ongoing projects, students create portfolios to illustrate the design process, industry trends, and governmental incentives encouraging the development of fuel efficient vehicles.
The highlight of the project occurs in the spring when students compete with their vehicles. The competition gives students a chance to learn through the vehicle performances. The students will calculate their fuel mileage, evaluate the designs that achieved the goal of fuel efficiency, and examine why some vehicles failed to meet the standards. Parents, community members, and industry partners are invited to attend this competition, which usually takes place on a weekend.
The Educare grant helps Lund fulfill one of his personal goals as a teacher. In the classroom, Lund focuses on “Educating students with the intent of having a progressive attitude for tomorrow by accepting innovation today. This statement is what drives my intentions for implementing a self-sustaining, long-term project that reinforces the very basics behind fuel efficiency, alternative energy, and driving tendencies in ways that impact fuel economy in the transportation industry.”