Priming the Next Generation of EV Engineers

Placing a display of year 6 (12 year old) school students between the Janus battery electric truck and the university electric car racing team at the Noosa EV expo was pure genius. The students as the next generation of drivers demonstrated their school project with remote-controlled cars and battery swapping, and when they had a moment they sat in the truck or admired the sleek racers. Really priming the next generation there.

Teachers Hamish Black and John Fuller (high school contract teacher) engaged Hamish’s year 6 class with remote-controlled cars and then transitioned to class projects in alternative energy and its uses for transport in Australia’s vast countryside. They came up with the solution of using swappable batteries (as an alternative to current EV trends). At the RMC level, that was a AA battery that was being swapped — what would it be at the level of a car or a class 8 prime mover? “Initially we looked at the potential applications for the technology in scooters in the Asia region, then transitioned this to passenger vehicles in the Australian context. If AA batteries can be the same all over the world, why can’t there be a standard car battery worldwide that can be swapped out when needed,” explained Hamish.

Wait till they see what NIO is up to!

Working in the classroom. Photo courtesy of Hamish Black.

All of the students were instantly engaged with the concept. Initially, it was the boys that showed the most interest, but as the classwork increased, the girls got more involved and soon took the lead. These 12 year olds will be driving in a few years, so this unit of work has real-world applications. Even now they are influencing their parents’ decisions.

Funding was provided by Zero Emissions Noosa to buy the cars. The students helped John construct a charging station. Links were made to the Education Queensland CTC unit on energy, electricity, and simple circuits and to the Australian Curriculum Science content descriptors. The primary one was ACSSU 097: Electrical energy can be transferred and transformed in electrical circuits and can be generated from a range of sources. But ACSIS 232, 107, 103, and 110 were also used.

Whole class 90 minute lessons were provided once a fortnight for a term. Students mapped out routes to tourist spots (Cairns, Charleville, Sydney for a surf trip), identifying locations for battery swapping stations. The science unit was also linked to an English unit on advertising and students enthusiastically made posters and brochures.

Next year, the school hopes to revisit the program and possibly expand its reach within the current curriculum framework, but nothing is locked in at this stage. “It was great to see the kids so enthusiastic at the Noosa EV Expo. They enjoyed imparting their knowledge to the adults walking past, quoting range and battery density,” says Hamish.

Priming the next generation

Holly, John, Grace, India, Madeline, and Hamish at the Noosa EV Expo. Photo courtesy of Noosa EV Expo.

The class liked the idea that a battery swap station could be used as a community battery and also to stabilize the grid. And you would always have access to the latest technology, as old batteries were swapped out and reused.

May this inspire other teachers, classes, and students to investigate electric vehicles as a real-world learning experience. I would love to hear from you if you are involved in projects like these priming the next generation.


 

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