Priming the Next Generation of EV Engineers

Placing a display of 6-year-old (12-year-old) school students between the Janus battery electric truck and the university’s electric car team at the Noosa EV Show was sheer genius. The students, as the next generation of drivers, demonstrated their school project with remote-controlled cars and battery swapping, and when they had a moment, they sat in the truck or admired the sleek racers. Really primes the next generation there.

Teachers Hamish Black and John Fuller (college teacher) engaged Hamish’s 6th grade with remote controlled cars and then moved on to class projects in alternative energy and its applications for transport in Australia’s vast countryside. They came up with the solution of using replaceable batteries (as an alternative to current EV trends). At RMC level it was an AA battery being replaced – what would it be at car or class 8 motor level? “Initially we looked at the potential applications for the technology in scooters in the Asia region and transferred this to passenger cars in the Australian context. If AA batteries can be the same worldwide, why can’t there be a standard car battery worldwide , which can be swapped out when needed,” explained Hamish.

Wait till they see what NIO is up to!

Start of the next generation

Working in the classroom. Photo courtesy of Hamish Black.

All the students were instantly engaged with the concept. At first it was the boys who showed the most interest, but as the class work increased, the girls became more involved and quickly took the lead. These 12-year-olds will be driving in a few years, so this unit of work has real-world applications. They are already influencing their parents’ decisions.

Funding was provided by Zero Emissions Noosa to purchase the cars. The students helped John build a charging station. Links were made to the Education Queensland CTC unit on Energy, Electricity and Simple Circuits and to the Australian Curriculum Science content descriptions. The primary one was ACSSU 097: Electrical energy can be transmitted and transformed in electrical circuits and can be generated from a variety of sources. But ACSIS 232, 107, 103 and 110 were also used.

Whole class 90 minute lessons were given once every fortnight for a semester. Students mapped routes to tourist spots (Cairns, Charleville, Sydney for a surf trip), and identified locations for battery swap stations. The science unit was also linked to an English unit on advertising and the students enthusiastically made posters and brochures.

Next year, the school hopes to revisit the program and possibly expand its reach within the current curriculum framework, but nothing is set in stone at this time. “It was great to see the kids so enthusiastic at the Noosa EV Expo. They enjoyed imparting their knowledge to the adults passing by, citing range and battery density,” says Hamish.

Start of the next generation

Holly, John, Grace, India, Madeline and Hamish at the Noosa EV Expo. Photo courtesy of Noosa EV Expo.

The class liked the idea that a battery swap station could be used as a community battery and also to stabilize the grid. And you would always have access to the latest technology as old batteries were replaced and recycled.

May this inspire other teachers, classes and students to investigate electric vehicles as a real-world learning experience. I’d love to hear from you if you’re involved in projects like these that kickstart the next generation.


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