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Powering cars and brains

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     Wheels are turning at UVM today both physically and mentally. Middle and high school students are competing in the 23rd annual UVM Aiken TASC Challenge putting students to the test to create green cars.

     "The car I made is pretty much a CD with a washer attached, a marble inside, and some cardboard," said middle school competitor, Teddy Alexander.

  11-year-old Teddy Alexander is one of the many middle schoolers with his game face on and invention in hand.

     "We're trying to make this car go 90 feet in 2 seconds," said Alexander.

     About 50 teams take part from 20 schools. They're tasked with creating green models that can roll their way through multiple challenges. The challenges include: A 90-yard eco-dash, washer carrying, and obstacle course.

         With a power-generating bike, the A-Team thinks they have a good chance of sitting atop the podium.

     "Hopefully we take it home, I think with the drag race we might," said a member of the A-Team. "We've seen a lot of different things today. Some people using air power, some using springs. We really hope our giant motor and our capacitor really bring it home."

     And Team Honka hopes experience isn't a requirement to reach the top in their first year of competition.

     "You don't have to win first place but you have to try," said a team member of Team Honka. "It's fun to make you think. We ran into problems with other car designs and we'd run into problems where it wouldn't work, so you have to think about your problem and it's fun."

     The project is meant to create a learning environment that pushes students beyond classroom restrictions.

     "It incorporates within the rules all the things that industries want the students to do upon graduation. Not just know what the book says, but be able to take that book knowledge and translate it into a time schedule that says you've got this much time, you've got to do this project and we want it under budget. This is the beginning of that!" said Dawn Densmore, director outreach and marketing.

     Dawn Densmore organizes the outreach programs for the UVM College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences. She believes learning empowers students to solve problems and become a solid foundation for generations to come.

     "There's always students that will say 'I never thought of that' or 'I would have never done it that way so there's learning on multiple levels when you involve the essence of this nature," said Densmore.

     Launching new minds for the future ahead of us.

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