BEEVILLE – St. Mary’s Joseph H. Cowen Race Team started school on Monday, Aug. 5, a week early, in a Jumpstart Program. Eleven students made it to school on Monday, and more have called to ask if they can participate for the rest of the week.

What could be so exciting to get kids to come to school the last week of their summer vacation? The answer the kids gave was learning and applying engineering and robotics. The three teams are: sixth, fifth and third/fourth. The race team participates in the Green Power USA racing program which has 320 teams in 17 states. The teams compete to build electric powered vehicles and race them. The goal is for students to learn engineering skills in the service of sustainable power.

To start the engineering program, the students build a remote control car using the Kosmos and Thames simple machines kits. The purpose of the first activity is to learn how a battery-powered motor works with gear ratios to increase power or to increase speed. The students built the first car in the kit. After racing the car, the students were tasked to go back and change the gears to make the car go faster.

Students worked together, experimenting with adding more motors, increasing and decreasing the size of gears. Those who ride mountain bikes understood the relationship intuitively.  According to Kendall Lorenson, “the bigger the gear on the bike the easier it is to ride, and the smaller gear gives you more power for climbing.”

The students also designed their team T-shirts for wearing on the Western Week float. Western Week is right around the corner, the first weekend in October.  Decorating and preparing the float is the first event the children are planning.