By Northeast YES! Coordinator Jim DeVries
The Youth Energy Summit (YES!) team at Cherry School was very interested in learning about how Electric Vehicles work. Instead of researching information on the internet or test driving one, they decided the best way to learn how they work is to build one! With the realization that a full blown passenger car would be too big of an undertaking, not to mention the expense and space needs, they decided to construct an electric go-cart.
With financial support from the McKnight Foundation, Range Engineering Council, and a few others, the team set out designing their EV cart. They went through a few different configurations of drive train designs and shopped around for expertise on machine shops that were capable of assisting the team while providing the necessary education of what works and what doesn’t.
There were also lessons learned on acquiring the necessary components. The set of motors purchased as a key part of the drive train were shipped without mounting brackets, so the team had to design and build mounting hardware to attach the motors to the frame.
Considerations of battery power vs. weight also needed some serious consideration. Less expensive lead acid batteries were too heavy and would compromise the power of the motors beyond what was acceptable. They eventually landed on a lithium ion battery where the weight to power ratio was more in line with their needs.
Recently, the EV car project achieved a new milestone. The students are designing the power controller, which will regulate speed and achieve the highest return on the battery life. Soon, the EV go-kart will be ready for power system controller install, system wiring, and future testing.
Rick Pierce, the YES! team coach at Cherry School, recently stated “The Electric Vehicle system has changed engineering and high school success at multiple grade levels. “ This is a great example of how guidance and the freedom to tackle a challenging project can further the educational endeavors of the students who want to learn.
Look for further updates as the project continues.