University High School Learning Day

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After more than a month of preparation by the WVU EcoCAR 3 team, the youth outreach event at University High School in Morgantown, W.Va., had finally arrived. Students, grades 9 through 12, from Mrs. Oiler’s engineering classes filled the shop at the high school to hear more about EcoCAR 3 and hybrid technologies.

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With the help of the National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium (NAFTC), one of the largest alternative fueling training centers in the United States, the WVU EcoCAR 3 team was able to pool resources for this event. Headquartered at West Virginia University, the NAFTC uses a mobile classroom with iPads to engage youth and adults, while teaching them about the benefits of alternative energies.

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In addition to the mobile classroom with iPads, the NAFTC also brought their cutaway Prius that shows the inner workings of a hybrid vehicle. This hands-on technology allowed students to scan QR codes of each hybrid component to learn more about how they work. Videos of WVU’s EcoCAR 3 team played while students explored the technologies of hybrids and alternative fuels. The students learned a lot about the team and its mission and were later tested on EcoCAR 3.

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The WVU EcoCAR 3 team placed themselves throughout the high school’s shop and NAFTC’s mobile learning center to answer questions about the EcoCAR 3 competition. NAFTC staff also attended the event to answer questions students had about hybrid vehicles and the fuels that can be used in place of conventional gasoline.

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Perhaps the most exciting part of the day was seeing how interested these students were in learning about hybrids and how this technology will impact our future. Several students left the event asking, “When will you be back?”

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After learning about the EcoCAR 3 competition and WVU’s involvement, students were asked to answer trivia questions and fill out surveys to gauge how much they learned from the presentation. More than 25% of students said they learned “quite a bit” and 63% said they planned to pursue STEM careers in the future.

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University High School students had several questions for EcoCAR 3 team members, including Assistant Communications Manager, Kimberly Dutcher.

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Students worked in groups of two to answer trivia questions displayed on iPads throughout the mobile classroom. The winning teams took home bragging rights and handfuls of candy.

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There was time for a photo with the NAFTC’s cutaway Prius between class changes. Even WVU EcoCAR 3 Engineering Manager Justin Brumley hopped in. Communications Manager Chelsea Betts (right) and Assistant Communications Manager Kimberly Dutcher joined him in time to say, “Cheese!”

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The day ended with interviews from two local broadcast stations. It was the perfect way to spread the word of EcoCAR 3 to West Virginia residents who may not have known about this innovative project.