By Cathy Frye/APSRC Director of Communications
LITTLE ROCK – Governor Asa Hutchinson was the first on Thursday to officially test drive a solar-powered car designed and built by students at LISA Academy North.
After buckling up in front of the Capitol, Hutchinson hit the road, chased by a group of cheering students.
The team of 10 – eight boys and two girls – spent the 2017-2018 school year designing and building the car. There were pizza nights, several visits from the Sherwood mayor, and lock-ins at the school with Sherwood Alderman Kenneth Keplinger, who happens to be a car enthusiast with lots of equipment to share.
“This has got some pizzazz!” Hutchinson declared as he pulled back up to the Capitol.
“I’m proud of the students here,” he added. “This is amazing, what y’all have done.”
LISA school leaders say the community’s investment in the project was vital for its success.
(Sherwood Mayor Virginia Hillman also took the car out for a spin Thursday. “Would you like me to leave a black streak?” she inquired jokingly. The mayor, it’s said, may have been late to a City Council meeting or two due to her interest in students’ progress over the past year.)
Dubbed “Jig-Jag,” the car is the end result of the 2018 Solar Car Challenge, a program that was developed in 1993. The team received a little grant money from the SCC Foundation but relied primarily on borrowed equipment and machinery. Students were especially grateful for the use of Keplinger’s welding power supply.
In July, students will drive the car from Texas to California as part of a nationwide tour showcasing solar cars from schools across the country. Students will be escorted by pacer vehicles as they wend their way through the desert. The car is designed to top out at 40 mph.
“It has been a great honor to be part of this team,” said student Jorge Galvan before the governor’s test drive. “We went from a simple design on a paper to having a complete car, and it’s frankly the most beautiful thing I’ve been part of.”
Want to shine a spotlight on your school or district? Contact Cathy Frye, Communications Director at the Arkansas Public School Resource Center. She would love to visit your campuses! Call 501.492.4300.