Written By Maggie Weaver
In 2017 green|spaces Chattanooga started a hands-on program to encourage STEM learning in Hamilton County students through designing and building race cars. The Chattanooga Green Prix, this year held at the Bend in downtown Chattanooga, allowed hundreds of students from 40+ schools to put their full-sized, functioning electric power race cars to the test.
Students of all ages were challenged in Slalom, Circuit, and Drag race courses. Middle and High School students also endured a grueling 90 minute race to determine a winner based on who could complete the most laps in the time frame.
Gabrielle Chevalier, the Communications and Community Outreach Coordinator for green|spaces said that she was excited to put on this event and “reinvigorate the people who were so disheartened last year” because of COVID.
“It’s just a really important STEM education program. You’re not just teaching kids how to fix cars or the importance of electric vehicles. You’re also keeping the jobs within the state of Tennessee, and then also preparing [the students] for a workforce for a wide range of engineering positions and problem solving roles,” says Chevalier.
Each team was not only judged on their car’s performance, but also on their presentation skills and teamwork efforts by providing a summary of their vision for future cars and what they have learned through the process.
Chevalier’s favorite part of events such as the Green Prix is “building these kids up and getting them ready to think about those kinds of future forward careers, and letting them know that they can build a future that’s different from what we have now.”
The kits for building the race cars cost around $5,000, so increasing public visibility and awareness in the community is a big part of broadening access to make sure that everyone can participate, learn and have the same opportunities.
The platform for green|spaces is sustainability made simple and their main goal is to make lives more sustainable for community members and individuals. Chevalier and others on her team strive to broaden the definition of what sustainability means to people in terms of how they can work with policy and the government, and also communities to help them empower themselves.
“We’re always looking for volunteers,” says Chevalier. “Giving your time or even just sharing social media posts [helps] us get the word out. There’s a lot of different ways to get involved and you don’t all have to do the same thing. You don’t have to be able to do everything in order to be helpful.”
Maggie Weaver is a photojournalist and performer based out of Chattanooga, Tennessee. She has over a decade of theater experience and uses her leadership and artistic skills to tell stories about the human experience and raw compassion through her camera lense. Her experiences working in leadership with youth community theater camps continues to inspire her to pursue new stories that bring the community together. To contact Maggie, email firstname.lastname@example.org.