Dominic Schittone and Natalie Hebert check out the inside of the car. MINDDRIVE arrived in Lake Charles Monday afternoon for a pit stop during the group’s cross country trek. The group is in the process of driving a completely electric car from San Diego, Calif. to Jacksonville, Fla., a 2,500-mile road trip. (Michelle Higginbotham / Special to the American Press)
(Michelle Higginbotham / Special to the American Press)
Last Modified: Wednesday, June 20, 2012 11:42 AM
MINDDRIVE arrived in Lake Charles on Monday afternoon for a pit stop during the group’s cross-country trek. The group is in the process of driving an electric car from San Diego to Jacksonville, Fla., a 2,500-mile road trip.
However, due to the rainy weather Monday afternoon, the car was actually aboard a trailer when it pulled into Lake Charles. “Unfortunately we can’t drive it in the rain. The hatch has to be up to drive because the motor will overheat,” said Linda Buchner, president of MINDDRIVE.
MINDDRIVE is an educational program in Kansas City, Mo., that reaches out to high school students through an automotive class and a contemporary communications class.
The automotive class works to build prototype electric vehicles designed to drive efficiently, and the contemporary communications class teaches students writing skills, photography, and works on Web design and social media.
The program has 18 students from five different Kansas City high schools. They began working on the car in November and completed it in early June. The car is a 1977 Lotus and runs on a series of batteries and a direct-current motor. The car is charged by a stand-alone 220-volt generator.
“We’ve had some speed bumps. Charging the car takes longer than expected, and we’ve had to put it in the trailer for some stretches to make up time. The car goes about 55 mph, and to charge it, it’s about a minute per mile,” Buchner said.
The Lake Charles stop was at the Sonic Drive-in on L’Auberge Drive. Sonic is one of the sponsors of MINDDRIVE’s cross-country trip.
“It’s really impressive the work they have gotten these kids to do on this car,” said Allen Greene, the area supervisor for Sonic. “Everybody here thought it was really neat. It was a neat concept, a neat car. We were really excited to have the car stop here today.”
Half the class and the mentors drove from San Diego to San Antonio and then were replaced by the second wave of students and mentors. However, Christiana Moore, an incoming college freshman, is going along for the entire journey.
“I’ve always wanted to take a trip across the country,” Moore said. “You’re supposed to do something big before college so here I am.”
Moore took both the automotive and the communications class last year.
“It was really fun, and I’m learning a lot,” Moore said. “I found out that I actually like photography a lot because of the class.”
Each day the students have a specific job like social media coordinator, photographer, or taking down analytics from the electric car.
MINDDRIVE is keeping a running log of their journey online using real-time tracking through Google Latitude and Twitter. Students are also responsible for writing and giving presentations to student and environmental groups along the way.
“It’s been super. We’ve met all kinds of people, car people, environmental enthusiasts,” Buchner said. “It’s been really fun.”