Written by La’Shay White
Day three is finally here and the students of MINDDRIVE are slowly dragging their feet across the carpet of the hotel because they are so tired. I sat there in a daze trying to completely wake up. I could barely hear the voices of the people around me as they tried to start a conversation. I got up to get coffee, as usual, so that I could be attentive for the day. We got our daily assignments and left the hotel.
We drove about an hour to the Carnegie Science Center. When the Science Center opened we explored and learned new things. The submarine was an unforgettable experience! I had the chance to walk through and briefly live the life of the sailor. The view from the water was so beautiful, I began taking picture after picture. I love how the houses are built on the hillside and I loved the bridge that sat directly in the middle of it all.
We departed from the Science Center and made our way to the original hotdog place – famous for Pittsburg. I did not enjoy it, however others said that it was great! Carnegie Mellon University was our next stop. While there, we had the chance to go through their Solar, Zero-Emissions House Project and the Intelligent Work Place Project. It was so unique because it was built by very motivated and intelligent students. The beauty of one small idea becoming something huge touched me in a way.
We left the University and went to a restaurant called The Porch. This was sort of an Italian restaurant and I did not know what I was getting myself into, but I will try anything once. Later we went to the Electric Garage on the Carnegie Mellon campus to present our car to some people that were interested. It was a long day that ended with a bang. A couple of mentors and students stayed behind for about 6 hours to fix our Karmann Ghia, replacing the motor. It was one of the greatest moments of the day, it showed me that teamwork and determination will get all of us a long way in life.
Written by La’Shay White
The airplane rides are over, thank goodness. We made it through yesterday and most, if not all of us are anticipating the upcoming of today. My day started off kind of slow after waking up at 5:30 in the morning. I slowly worked my way down to breakfast with my, oh, so heavy luggage. I could smell the aroma of sweet rolls, coffee, and eggs. I don’t know how I could depict the smell of three items among all of the smells that were lurking in the hotel. As I walked in the eating area, I stopped to look at the smiles and tired facial expressions on each persons face. I would say by the looks of it that everyone was not a morning person. However, that is beside the point. I decided to disregard the food and go straight for the coffee. As I blankly stood there, I took one deep breath, smiled, and grabbed me a cup and began to make my coffee. I took my seat, slowly sipped the scorching hot coffee, and talked to a couple of my peers.
After 10 minutes I was like an energizer bunny, pumped and ready to go. We all got our assignments and we were on our way. Our first stop was Bridgestone in Akron, Ohio. The building was so beautiful, with the clean shiny windows and the statue of Harvey Firestone (founder) which was uniquely different, but I liked it. We went on a tour of the Bridgestone facility, ate a snack and watched a video about last years trip. We also took the time to thank Bridgestone for everything that they have done. I took a few pictures as we waited for the sheriff to come and escort us out of Akron. One of the MINDDRIVE students, Kristana Madison, drove our electric Karmann Ghia to Youngstown, Ohio with Steve alongside. Once we reached Youngstown we went to a place called “Oh Wow” Science Center. It was a large version of kaleidoscope in Kansas City. I felt it was a good experience because it showed us how to have fun again, how to be ourselves. Later, we spoke with students from a local high school and ate delicious sandwiches.
After that, we made our way to Youngstown State University (YSU) to talk about our car to a few intelligent people. The people all seemed really interested in what we had to say. I began to smile as I saw the amusing looks on all of their faces. Who knew that a few students and mentors could completely take apart a car and make it totally electric, then drive it across the country? On our way to our new hotel in Pennsylvania, another one of the MINDDRIVE students, Cornel Foster, drove the Karmann Ghia, as the caravan followed behind. Sadly, we encountered a problem with the car. Yes, we were shocked at what was going on, but everyone knows that the MINDDRIVE team never gives up. When we have a goal to reach, despite the problems we encounter, we will reach it. We are not only a team, but we are a family, we all stick together in time of need and that’s what I love about MINDDRIVE. We put the car on the trailer and kept on trucking. After the sonic, of course and a long ride, we finally made it to our hotel. That was a really long day but I have to say that it was a great.
By Sandra Perez
It’s day one and it’s almost time to go on the long journey that’s ahead of us. Getting on the plane for the first time was a great experience, being up so close with the clouds was fascinating. As the plane got ready to take off, I started to get butterflies in my stomach, realizing I was finally going to be on top of the world. As we finally reached the top, I saw how beautiful everything truly was, the fear I had about flying seemed to fade away as we reached the top. The time seemed to fly as I was mesmerized by the beautiful clouds, we finally reached to our destination and it was time to land in Chicago.
We stayed there for about an hour and a half admiring the great city of Chicago from a far in the airport. We learned a lot of things about Chicago in that hour and a half, I learned that “its considered bad manners and harmful to your taste buds to put ketchup on your hot dog within the city limits of Chicago”. That was a fascinating fact about Chicago, and it made me learn a little more about the background of Chicago and the great pride they have for their hot dogs.
After what seemed like a short wait it was time to get back on top of the world and go to Akron, Ohio. We got ready to take off and like the first time I got those butterflies I had in the beginning if our journey. We finally landed in Akron around 1:45 pm, it was a small little town but it was really pretty. There were trees everywhere, something we don’t see much in Kansas City. We arrived at Sonic, one of our many awesome sponsors, and helped ourselves to the great food of Sonic. Sadly for me, I had already ate before and I didn’t have much chance to try Sonic’s food, but I did get my favorite drink, a strawberry limeade. Around 6:30 a.m we arrived at our hotel, the Holiday Inn. We freshened up and prepared ourselves for a speech by one of our close friends Casey Carter. He gave a great inspirational speech about going after what we want in life and how we should never compromise on the things we are passionate about. He also told us that we should always expect great things for us, he also gave us a small glimpse into his music career. He sang for us four great inspirational songs, I truly believe everyone from MINDDRIVE received a great message from his speech. Me, personally I learned that you can achieve more than one dream. You don’t have to be stuck to one career; you can do more than one thing because we should never give up on our passions in life. After Casey’s speech we headed to AppleBee’s to have a tastey dinner. We had a great time being together eating like the family we are, getting to know each other even more and having one of the greatest night of our lives. It was the greatest way to end day one.
This is the first step in creating a completely converted electric car from an old model Karmann Ghia. It’s been completely stripped down, sanded to perfection, painted a subtle “green” color, to fit in with the rest of the MINDDRIVE fleet, and then clear coated to perfection.
This car was finished to a fine degree so that it could be used to strike molds that will be used for the subsequent MINDDRIVE electric Karmann Ghia ultra-efficient prototype vehicle.
The students will then continue on to convert this car to an electric driveline. Their concept is to create a “kit car” that would be primarily an urban use car, traveling relatively low speeds for short distances. The perfect neighborhood car!
The car is shod with Bridgestone low rolling resistance, Ecopia tires. It will be featured at the Kansas City Auto Show from March 6th – 10th at Bartle Hall.
Mentor Catherine Futter and Alta Vista High School student, Huyi Rodriguez are building a model interior of the framework for the Karmann Ghia project. Catherine has been working with a team of students including Daniel Hungerford of Shawnee Mission East, Christiane Parker of University Academy along with Huyi in an exhaustive exercise of measuring, cutting, forming and fitting.
This task is important for the construction of the mold for the newly designed Karmann Ghia. They are using the dimensions, carefully measuring every line, curve and angle of the current “mule” car, creating what would have been the interior of it exactly, so that when the exterior mold is constructed there will still be room for everything needed in the two-passenger car.
Kennedy Mitchelle took the Canon Rebel into the shop for the first time with the assignment of documenting the process happening on the Karmann Ghia project. There are several Automotive Design Studio students working on various aspects of this project, mostly deconstruction of the car, and some are reconstructing the dimensions of the interior out of foam core and building a shape from which they can design a mold for the bent plywood floor panel.
She found art in the rust, the discarded, ignored car, which will be resurrected, fully altered, fully electric and beautifully designed. So, enjoy the “beauty” in the ugliness of the “BEFORE” photos of the Karmann Ghia Project.
Corey Boston is working on the Reynard team this week with mentors, Sam Scupham, Andy Ratkewicz, and Buck Buchner. They have a couple of projects within this project, one of which is to drill holes into the aluminum plate which will cover and protect the controller. The other is creating a metal base cage that will hold the batteries.
Corey is all about safety. He’s a freshman at DeLaSalle Charter School and wants to be a lawyer. He commented the other day that most people would think it wouldn’t make much sense for him to work on building electric cars if he wants to be a lawyer. ”But,what MINDDRIVE is about is problem solving and learning to work with others,” says Corey. “It’s not just about cars, it’s about working with people.”
Yep, that part is true. Come on down to MINDDRIVE some Saturday morning (we’re there from 9:00 until 1:00 each week) and you will see at least 4 different teams working on various aspects of the Automotive Design class car projects. And from the Communications class and the Business development class, you’ll see teamwork in researching the cars, the target market for the Karmann Ghia project, taking photos, writing stories, etc. We have a great time.
Oh, and Corey is definitely going to be a lawyer. He’s very convincing.
Every week, to get our creative juices flowing we start our Contemporary Communications class with about 15 minutes of free writing. This is where you are given a prompt, which can be a word, a phrase, a song, a story, etc. and then you just write about it as you wish; using fiction, reality, poetry or anything else.
This week we are featuring our student, La’Shay White’s poem, entitled Bittersweet, Oh Bittersweet. The prompt this week was a story about the Innocence Project, a non-profit organization of lawyers committing their time and effort to free those wrongly convicted of crimes, who have served sentences long and difficult, and the story of a man who was released after 30 years in prison. He described the day of his release as “Bittersweet”.
Here is what La’Shay wrote that day:
Written by La’Shay White
It was an exciting day when the Karmann Ghia “mule” was taken apart. The plan is to use this frame, redesigned with aerodynamic qualities and restyled with beautiful attributes, as a mold that can be replicated. The newly designed body will consist in part of formed, bent plywood and part fiberglass or carbon fiber. Both offer lightweight and sustainable materials and give us a great start at creating a lightweight, efficient vehicle.
The students and mentors worked together to disassemble the body from the frame and this photo illustrates how at MINDDRIVE, everyone has to pull their own weight! lol. Seriously though, our model is to team mentors from various professional fields with students, one-on-one whenever possible. Teamwork is important as there are often several projects happening simultaneously during the course of our 4 hours together, every Saturday from 9:00 to 1:00.
MINDDRIVE went through a total re-model over the summer months, including adding an AutoCAD classroom, with 6 SolidWorks Stations so that our returning students can take it up a notch and learn how to draw 2D and 3D renderings, which will be used to fabricate parts for the Automotive Design Studio.
The Automotive Design Studio got moved to the back shop area to accommodate the expansion of our number of students and mentors. This will allow everyone to be together for the classroom time, and then the teams will be split up as to which car project they will focus on each week. Mentors lead projects with approx. 4 students on each project.
We’ve also added a Business Strategy component to the Automotive Design Studio. They will be researching the costs associated with converting an old Karmann Ghia into a modern electric vehicle, designed for urban use. Their study will include feasibility, defining the market, competitive pricing, parts research and much more!
Here is a great shot of our “Wall of Safety” which features (continues to grow) our students, our mentors, and our esteemed frequent guests! Come on down, we’ve got a pair of safety goggles for you and you can join in the fun!
Contemporary Communications Class has also been updated! We’ve taken over what was the Automotive Design Studio last year and have grown to 10 students. Each student will be assigned their own computer for the year, create their own blog, learn to write well, photograph and document projects through the use of video production, as well as utilizing social media for reporting on MINDDRIVE activities.
Saturday was an amazing day at MINDDRIVE. We started off by meeting all of our new students and their parents for an orientation down at the shop. We have 12 returning students and 18 new students coming from 5 schools across the Kansas City metropolitan area. The students range in age from 15 to 18 years old and come from Alta Vista Charter High School, DeLaSalle Charter High School, University Academy Charter High School, Center High School, and Shawnee Mission East High School.
First thing out of the shoot, we gave them our Pre-Test. Yep! That’s right, a test – first day! This is an important aspect to our success as we measure the impact that experiential learning has with this group of high school students. Which of these students “learns by doing”? Who ends up with an expanded vision for their future? Are we inspiring them to learn back in their core subjects at school as a result of the options that we present to them? These are all compelling questions that we are frankly excited to discover over the course of the next 32 weeks with these young adults. How much impact can we have in one year? We are aiming high! And, when our EXPECTATIONS are set high, they can accomplish GREAT things!
The highlight came at the end of our session, when we all piled into cars and headed out to a picnic lunch with the Mayor. Kansas City’s Mayor, Sly James @MayorSlyJames spoke to the students about triumph over obstacles. He challenged them to always do their best, and promised that if they did, opportunities will come. He candidly shared his own personal story and stories about his family that included both success and failure. We shared a lovely meal, organized by Genaro Ruiz (a big shout out – THANK YOU!) and were able to ask him any question we wanted. Students sought his advice on topics, shared their own stories of success and struggles. In the end, we took this photo together, a symbol of unity and support.
What a wonderful start to the @MINDDRIVEorg 2012-13 program. Thank you, Mayor!
Written by Steve Rees
Looking back at the preparation for the trip and the trip itself the first thing that anyone involved, students and mentors, would say to describe the experience, was the creation of a family called MINDDRIVE.
The students have grown and matured academically and personally and the mentors have played the important role in that growth. Along the way the students have not only learned about math, science and presenting but also how to travel and live together as a group. They have had heart felt and dedicated guidance from the mentors. Moving our group of nearly 20 people, in close quarters was an interesting chorography. There was a lot of “social” learning along the way by both the mentors and the students. There was a required give and take to make it move together as one. The students were impressive in their spirit and dedication. They typically were always engaged and productive doing their daily tasks of research, writing, photography and data gathering.
We saw them experience America from stem to stern, the mountain, the desert and the sea. They ate food from different regions and saw different cultures. They spoke to people all across the country and they were able to realize the importance of their work by the interest and coverage by local communities, schools and media.
It was a well oiled machine that stayed on schedule the entire trip leaving the students with the desire to spend more time in some spots, like the beaches. If anything it would have been nice to have a little more “chill” time in places but looking back they made their fun along the way and they experienced a ton.
It was a bonus that the car made the trip, almost, without any problems. A loose bolt and a link in the chain that broke and a puncture in a tire caused by a sharp edge in the trailer were pretty minor, not having an impact on the timing.
We tried a charging method that was unusual and untried and it worked like a Swiss watch every time.
At a lunch with students and mentors a year ago someone said that we were all mentors to each other. It was obvious that this was the case on this trip. The mentors all learned more about themselves because of the students. It was a two way street.
The bottom line will be how this influences the lives of the students as they go forward. We are all confident that it will because it has already given them confidence and a much expanded vision of what is possible. I think that if you asked the mentors they would say that they too did something that they would not have imagined possible before.
MINDDRIVE’s students, mentors and executive board members gathered in front of Kansas City’s Union Station for a victory photograph after driving their electric Lotus Esprit from Coast to Coast in June. Afterwards, the group gathered for a celebration lunch, courtesy of Applebees, and related what the last year of MINDDRIVE has meant. The group shared wonderful stories, many hugs and several tears.
The journey began with a kick-off celebration in the same place on June 6. Two groups of students and mentors drove the Lotus from San Diego to Jacksonville in 10 days. The car, powered by 30 3.2-volt lithium-ion batteries, covered about 1,800 of the 2,400 miles under its own electric power. Charging was accomplished with two generators and two battery chargers.
Testing enroute at the Bridgestone Proving Ground in Fort Stockton, TX, revealed that the Lotus averaged 138.6 MPGe at 60 mph and 218 MPGe at 40 mph.
Written by Paul Robert Smith
Today the MINDDRIVE crew is coming from Pensacola, Florida and we’re driving to Tallahassee, FL On the way there we will be making a few stops. The first stop we have to make is at Pine Forest High School. Christiane Parker and Emauel Gutierrez presented the Lotus to a group of kids participating in their engineering and robotics teams. Also we took time to charge the Lotus while presenting.
Later, we drove to Chipley, Florida to make a presentation to the Vo Tech Center and those folks were just great, too! We are getting really smooth with our presentations now. We speak, we show and we GO!!!
Written By Kelvin Duley
Once again we stumbled upon a tricky situation! This time in Denham Springs, LA and the tricky situation happened to be a FLAT tire! (yeah, it was our fault, not the Ecopia 422′s we have on our car – we ripped it putting the car in the trailer).
“Hooray” is the first thing that popped into my mind when I heard our mentor Brian say “I have a compressor Steve! No, really! I HAVE a compressor!” We laughed at the expression on Steve’s face who was already busy looking for a Firestone store in the close range of where we were.
We headed to Denham Springs to the Firestone store and replaced the tire ($135 and ten minutes later, we were on the road). They were great people and helped us get on the road quickly.
We campaigned on to Covington, LA where we were welcomed by the mayor and a police escort of about 18 police cars (at least it seemed like 18) and were met by a crowd of about 100 great people. Jelani Harris and Paul Smith were our presenters today. After sharing their experiences we all answered good questions from the crowd. I can speak on behalf of the whole MINDDRIVE organization that we were honored to be welcomed in such a great way.
Next for us is Mobile, AL we charged the car at the local Bridgestone store and answered some questions for them and those that stopped by. They offered us a great meeting room, cold beverages and snacks! We had one last presentation with a television interview at Sonic Drive In before heading off to Pensacola.
I’ve heard the beaches there are white as snow and I can’t wait to feel the warm Gulf of Mexico for the first time.
Written by Kristana Madison
Today we woke up refreshed and had breakfast from Sonic. We left the hotel at 8:00. We then started our journey towards Houston, TX. We drove an hour to Luling, TX and along the way we happened to drive over Holler Creek. We learned in Texas, no matter what, you have to drive over Holler Creek.
We then made our first stop at Buc-ee’s. Buc-ee’s is a strange place – you could buy everything from groceries to cowboy hats. They are very proud of Buc-ee’s because there are lots of signs along the highway leading you there.
Our next stop is Columbus, TX. We will be stopping at Firestone. Something famous about Columbus, TX is that it has a great hospitals and clinics with great staff, according to Google. They also have “The Best Live Oak Tree”. This will be a comparison of the “Live Oak” tree we saw at the Alamo in San Antonio.
60 miles before we got to Firestone, we stopped and unloaded the Lotus. We passed through a part of Texas that was more hilly than we expected and the the trees are apparently another thing they are proud of in Texas. After saying hello to the fine folks at Firestone, we headed to Sonic for another interview by CBS news. We were so excited to find out that we were staying at the Hampton Inn Hotel because we’ve never stayed in a Hampton Inn before. It was much nicer than La Quinta, where our room smelled like smoke! We ended the night eating out at Applebee’s and had an evening swim.
What a day! Tomorrow we are looking forward to moving through Mississippi and into Alabama!
By Tom Strongman, mentor
There’s something magical about reaching beyond oneself for a goal that lies outside the realm of everyday life.
A few months ago, MINDDRIVE students and mentors conjured up an improbable dream of taking an electric car on a coast-to-coast journey. Now, for two weeks, they are making that dream a reality.
One group of students and mentors traveled from San Diego to San Antonio, then they traded places with a second group that will travel the final leg to Jacksonville, Florida. I was with the first group.
Reaching for a dream creates an aura that others understand immediately, and that seemed most obvious when we stopped in small towns.
In Willcox, Arizona, the Sulphur Springs Valley Electrical Cooperative rolled out the metaphoric red carpet for the MINDDRIVE students and their car. Mayor Bob Irvin and City Manager Patrick McCourt led a delegation that listened attentively as students explained how the car was conceived and created. Their encouragement buoyed our spirits even more than the tasty barbecue lunch.
Two days later, we pulled into the town square in Ozona, Texas, at 7:30 in the evening. As we parked in front of the beautiful Crockett County Courthouse, townspeople swarmed the car. Their enthusiasm was palpable. Youngsters climbed in and out of the driver’s seat, and one middle-aged lady giggled as she asked if she could go along on the rest of the trip.
We arrived in Junction, Texas, on Saturday, June 15, trailing the lights and siren of a police escort all the way through town on main street. The townspeople embraced the students and their project with incredible warmth. The bond between students and the folks in Junction was immediate. As the car sat alongside the Pedernales River, generators humming as they pumped a new load of electricity into the batteries, the first group of students and mentors headed for the airport in San Antonio, smiles wide and hearts full. It had been a remarkable week.
When you reach for a dream, everyone cheers.
Written by Catherine Futter, Mentor
What a day!! It was fulfilling in so many ways.
I have made so many new friends on this trip, seen the beautiful and stark Southwestern landscape and driven an electric 1977 Lotus Esprit. Life can’t get much better. OK, we could have seen an armadillo and experienced local culinary delicacies, but I am not complaining.
Dawn was pretty late this morning, as we are close to the western edge of Central Time zone. It was cool with a lovely breeze–what a skyline–with dramatic plateaus, prickly pear cactus and mesquite. Tom took a really spectacular photo of the Lotus driving into the sun rise.
Today was momentous for me, in that I got to drive the MINDDRIVE Lotus twice! As the first driver of the day, with Christana as co-pilot, I drove from Van Horn, TX to Balmoreah, TX. It was about an hour and a half of awe-inspiring scenery, a beautiful breeze and the metallic rattle of the electric motor. Once I settled in and Steve set the pace with the lead car, we cruised along and I learned how to use the throttle to control the amount of power we were expending. Truly an amazing trip. But it became even more important when the toughest critic of them all, Brian, said I did great job of maintaining speed and line. He is not generous with this praise. Steve and Walt are, and they also congratulated me on my inaugural trip.
I then had a nice break out in the landscape–found a snake skeleton and wild watermelons! The kids were at a spring for a swim at Balmoreah.
If the day could get better, it did when we arrived at the Texas Proving Ground in Fort Stockton. Steve asked me to drive the two 60 mph laps in the Lotus. It was pretty intense trying to maintain 60 mph for an 8 mile oval in a car with very subtle adjustments. I did one lap with Luis and another with Javier. We did great. In the end we averaged 169 mpge!
A town square presentation in Ozona rounded out a busy day. It was the most popular event we have had to date.
Our final dinner as a “first week” group was at the Sonic in Ozona. It was pretty emotional with the students expressing their feelings about the program and their appreciation for all the Steve and Linda and the mentors have done for them. Steve, Linda, Jim and I gave little (emotional!) speeches about what MINDDRIVE students mean to us. Lots of hugs and some tears.
It is going to be sad to leave tomorrow but new students will have the opportunity to experience the country, the car and the family that is MINDDRRIVE and have lots of fun!
I cannot express — and am still absorbing — all that has happened in the last six days and what this experience will mean to me. I know, however, that this trip will stay with me forever.