Northeast Tennessee students race solar-powered go-karts at Bristol Motor Speedway

BRISTOL, TN (WJHL) – High school students from 20 schools in Northeast Tennessee took on the track at Bristol Motor Speedway on Monday morning to compete in solar-powered go-kart races.

The go-kart teams from 13 different school systems have been working to convert gas-powered go-karts to solar power since last fall.

The participating high schools each received a $99,000 Perkins Reserve Grant from the Tennessee Department of Education to fund the project.

Officials said about $1 million in grants are awarded in Tennessee each year — and “all grants are extremely competitive in nature.”

Representatives from the schools and Bristol Motor Speedway took part in a test run and walk through at the track last Thursday.

Dr. Bill Flanery with the Washington County, Tennessee Department of Education said it’s important to note that each team put together their respective go-karts from scratch using a lot of trial and error.

“This is real engineering, real world problem-solving,” Flannery said. “They have to meet a deadline and under budget.”

Daniel Boone High School senior, Will Greene, is hopeful the exposure to this technology will pay big dividends as he looks to a future career.

“Definitely look good on a resume the fact that you’ve worked with solar and understand it a little bit and how it works so it could definitely be a really good asset especially going into the electrical engineering field,” said Greene.

“We’re big proponents of STEM programs in school and think this is the perfect event for the state to showcase its young talent,” said Jerry Caldwell, executive vice president and general manager at Bristol Motor Speedway. “It’s important for high school students to continue learning, even outside of the classroom. We’re glad to be hosting this event and can’t wait to see the students in competition with their innovative
solar go-kart designs.”

The students will speed race around the apron of the track and also perform an endurance race in the karts.

The following are results of Monday’s competition:

1. Clinch School (Hancock County)
2. Hampton High
3. Greeneville Center for Technology

Speed Race:
1. Clinch School
2. Hampton High
3. Johnson County High

Endurance Race:
1. Elizabethton High
2. Johnson County High
3.Greeneville Center for Technology

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