Ready, Set, Go: Area high school students race solar-powered karts at BMS to promote STEM activity

Published 5:26 pm Monday, May 8, 2017

Months of hard work finally paid off for area high school students.
Bristol Motor Speedway welcomed in some slightly different vehicles on the “World’s Fastest Half-Mile” track Monday afternoon as 20 high schools competed to see where their solar-powered kart stacked up compared with other schools.
It was a historic day for the schools during the inaugural competition that highlighted high schools’ different STEM (Science, Technology, Mathematics and Engineering) programs.
“We’re big proponents of STEM programs in school and think this is the perfect event for the state to showcase its young talent,” BMS general manager and executive vice president said in a statement to the Elizabethton Star. “It’s important for the high school students to continue learning, even outside of the classroom. We’re glad to be hosting this event and can’t wait to see the students in competition with their innovative solar go-kart designs.”
Each of the schools that participated Monday, including Hampton and Elizabethton High, were able to receive funding through a Perkins Reserve Grant offered by the Tennessee Department of Education to fund their projects.
Since last fall, students spent time with their peers and instructors to prepare for the big day by converting gasoline karts to electric power and utilizing solar panels.
“This has been a huge undertaking for all of the students and teachers that participated,” said Debbie Madgett, Carter County Schools CTE program and grant coordinator. “But it has been great to see everyone come together for such an important day.”
Hampton came away with high nods during the event by taking home second place in the speed race and second in the overall competition. Elizabethton came away in first place in the endurance race.
“We’re extremely proud of our students that participated in Monday’s races at Bristol Motor Speedway,” Elizabethton Director of Schools Dr. Corey Gardenhour said. “This is a great opportunity to have early experiences for students that want to pursue a field in the STEM-field. Our CTE program continues to be a popular choice of study for our students. We look forward to seeing the program continually develop in the future.”
Hampton High instructor Daniel Arnett praised the effort of the students that participated and added that the event was no easy matter.
But while the Bulldogs brought away high marks, their county companions up in Stoney Creek offered a helping hand. Unaka High School teacher Scotty Johnson shared the story of how Unaka Auto Body Students were able to assist Hampton after their kart wrecked prior to the competition.
Paul Beal and Athin Hughes were two of the students that helped with fixing the vehicle and stated the event was a fun time and a great way of preparing for what the future has ahead for them. Both students mentioned they were pursuing CTE education after graduating high school.

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