Harbor Freight Tools for Schools enjoys any chance to celebrate the continued work and successes of skilled trades educators in our teacher network. We were excited to learn about a recent win from Jerry Webb, one of our 2018 prize winners, who teaches construction and renewable energy at Harrison Bay Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
In November, Webb and a group of students from his program participated for the first time in the Chattanooga Green Prix, a riverfront derby race. The event was hosted by Green Spaces, a local sustainability nonprofit that first piloted the race in 2017 with eight local elementary, middle, and high schools. The competition now engages 45 schools across Hamilton County, increasing the odds and the stakes for big wins.
Webb leveraged his connections with local sustainability partners to get his students started. The race was first brought to his attention by Michael Walton, executive director of Green Spaces. Walton has helped support Webb’s renewable energy and sustainable outreach program, which is known as Next Generation Sustainable Living, by providing some of the materials needed for the program to visit local schools. Webb and his students bring green technology, renewable energy, and environmental sustainability lessons to schools in area with The Green Machine, a portable trailer classroom that provides hands-on learning experience. Charles Spence, another supporter who works with Tennessee Valley Authority, sponsored the F24 kit which Webb’s students used to build their electric racing vehicle. The kit uses a single 24-volt DC motor powered by two 12-volt batteries linked in series.
“I was blessed to work with an incredible group of students on the project. They assembled, disassembled, and reassembled multiple sections of the build until they got it exactly like they wanted,” Webb said.
Students Evan Shelburne, Amaya Landess-Feldmann and Aaron Morrow work on assembling their electric vehicle.
After many hours of student research and an estimated 40 plus hours invested in building, testing, and preparing the electric vehicle, Webb and his team were ready to compete. They arrived at the racing location along the Tennessee riverfront in Chattanooga where they participated in a qualifying race before the main event.
“The biggest stand-out moment in my opinion was at the actual race. After the qualifying race, the students had 20 minutes to change the batteries and prep the car for the actual race. During the battery change one of the students was nervous about getting the car ready on time and accidentally wired one of the batteries incorrectly, melting the battery cables and damaging one of the two good batteries,” Webb said. “The other team members stepped in, supported the nervous student, and helped him replace and rewire the damaged cables in time to make the race. They also had to replace the damaged battery with an older backup battery, which I was afraid wouldn’t last the entire 90-minute race, but it did.”
That bit of teamwork and creative problem solving, on top of their countless hours of dedicated work, won the team first place in their race.
Students Evan Shelburne, Aaron Morrow, Amaya Landess-Feldmann and William Joel at the Grand Prix awards ceremony.
Webb and his students plan on competing in multiple Green Power race events throughout the southeast next year, as well as the upcoming Chattanooga Green Prix race in spring of 2022.