The University of Waterloo Alternative Fuels Team (UWAFT) visited two middle schools during the spring of Year Two, where they had the opportunity to interact with more than 100 students. Team members taught the students about different kinds of alternative fuels. The middle schoolers examined the properties of ethanol, wind power, biodiesel, hydrogen fuel, solar power and geothermal electricity and linked each alternative fuel to their everyday lives. Students were then able to deduce advantages and disadvantages related to each alternative fuel.
In the second part of the workshop, students were taught the basics of design. UWAFT wanted to make sure it taught the process accurately because it can be applied to many different projects and ideas. The design process is a simplified version of the workflow UWAFT follows during the EcoCAR 2 competition. To ensure they understood the design process lesson, students were asked to select an alternative fuel and design a car that runs on that fuel. Students had to consider the properties taught at the beginning of the class to ensure their design was a success.
When the workshop was over students were asked to write down three things they learned, two things they thought were cool and one thing they did not understand. 80 percent of the students thought that designing their own car was cool. The event was a success and UWAFT was invited to teach the same workshop to 10 classes in June (350 students in one day!).
The event was so successful that middle schoolers are now asking UWAFT to hold a workshop on implementing their designs. UWAFT is looking forward to visiting new classrooms and taking it to the next level by giving students a window into implementation.