Imagine a vehicle designed and constructed by students that houses two 12-volt batteries energizing an electric motor. The vehicle is piloted by a student driver and supported by a team of students who work together to compete in various tasks across the midwest. That is exactly what is taking place in the classroom at Kennedy High School. Racing season has begun for the Kennedy Electric Car class!

“I love the atmosphere of it,” says Noah, a Kennedy 12th grader. “It’s amazing.”

Unlike traditional sports competitions hosted around eastern Iowa, only two of the eight races are held in Iowa. “In the last 23 or 24 years between Nebraska, Iowa, Michigan, Illinois and Wisconsin, in those years, we have raced on 46 different tracks,” said Barry Wilson, veteran teacher and advisor.

“Last weekend we raced at West Point, Nebraska, and we ended up getting second, losing by one lap,” says Colin, Kennedy 12th grader. “We have some throttle issues so hopefully I’ll get that fixed.”

At the competitions, there is one simple objective: make the car go as far as it can in one hour. “It’s not a race,” says Wilson. “It is an endurance check to see how smart you are about taking a specific amount of battery power and designing a car to go farther in 60 minutes than anybody else.”

“I like the speed of it and I like being in control of the car,” says Keira, a car driver and Kennedy 10th grader. Her objectives are clear: “Don’t crash and run the track the way you are supposed to run it.”

The class of 20 students is also scored on braking efficiency, car handling and maneuvering, car design and documentation. Wilson divides the class into four teams: car building team, a graphics team, a documentation team and a battery team. All work together during a competition.

“There are no two days that are alike.” says Brian, Kennedy 12th grader. “The team environment for the most part is really positive. You’re always learning something.”