No it's not the metamorphosis of David Banner into the Incredible Hulk. Rather, it is a United Kingdom based STEM initiative that provides a hands-on learning program which requires students to design, build, and race electric cars.
The Greenpower program began in the United Kingdom in 1999. The program includes 500 schools and works with over 8000 students. Each team is given the same standard motor, set of batteries, and a strict set of guidelines to follow. By using their Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math skills, students construct a vehicle that can reach speeds ranging from 30 to 40mph.
With four separate categories, it provides racing opportunities for students from age 9 to the university/college level, age 25. There is also a Corporate Challenge that involves commercial companies to enter with teams made up of new graduates and interns.
In the United States, some of the sources for funding STEM initiatives are through federal, state and local governments; corporate foundations; private and family foundations; and STEM funding coalitions.
Team USA – First Team From America
In June 2013, students from Huntsville, Alabama became the first team from outside the United Kingdom to participate in the Greenpower races. The race was held in West Sussex, England near Chichester.
Team USA placed 7th out of 14 in the 90-minute Formula 24+ race, and 13th out of 50 in the Formula 24 race. For their first time competing, the team did an outstanding job!
Greenpower Racing Comes to America
After Team USA’s success in the UK, Greenpower officials chose Huntsville, Alabama as the base for its American branch. The Greenpower USA Foundation was formed in May 2014. Huntsville Alabama will be the home for the American version of the annual Greenpower National Finals. In April 2015, the first Greenpower race in the United States was held in Huntsville. The race took place on the parking lot and running track of a local high school.
Littlejohn Helps Bring First Greenpower Race Track to U.S.
With the civil site design completed and construction underway on the new $26 million Whitesburg P-8 School, Huntsville City Schools chose Whitesburg as the first of three three Huntsville schools slated to receive a Greenpower race track. Having provided the original site design, Littlejohn was already familiar with plans for the unique addition to this new school. Littlejohn is honored to have participated in the development of Whitesburg and to have contributed to the advancement of our community’s educational resources.
With Littlejohn’s expertise in engineering, we were equally enthusiastic to be selected to assist with the Grenpower track development. The purpose of the Greenpower racing program is to teach engineering to students at an early age. Traditionally, a student’s introduction to engineering education doesn’t occur till the last years of high school or college. The Greenpower track project is particularly significant to our company because it establishes children with an early insight into engineering and critical thinking that will be beneficial in high school and college, and may eventually lead them to an engineering career.
In July 2014, our client provided a concept plan layout for the new race track. We began the design process and collaboratively exchanged ideas about the desired end result. The task was to provide a functional race track while trying to incorporate it into the project that was already under construction. To help minimize construction time and cost, the race track was accomplished by utilizing features in the existing site design. Littlejohn also provided construction engineering support and inspection for the project.
The new green track was made possible by using the designed student drop-off/pickup lanes, queueing lanes, utilizing the existing running track and adding new pavement to tie it all together. Curb cuts were required where the race track cut through areas where new curb and gutter was to be constructed. The race track is 16 feet wide and is striped the color, you guessed it, Green! The track length is 0.76 miles and includes a 900’ pit stop.
The new school had a ribbon cutting on August 3, 2015 and students are enjoying their new building. The civil site work is still continuing and is expected to be completed within the next few months. Whitesburg P-8 School is home of the Mach XIII Greenpower Team.
Greenpower Race Sites
Site 1 - Whitesburg P-8 School
Site 2 - Grissom High School
Site 3 - Jemison High School
Presentation Images Courtesy of ChapmanSisson Architects