Getting teenagers interested in STEM majors has proven difficult, but a Missouri-based program called MindDrive is taking outreach to a new level. This organization has helped at-risk teens build an awesome all-electric Karmann Ghia, helping them find a practical application for skills many young people dismiss out of hand.
While more young Americans than ever are heading off to college, there is a serious lack of those who want to pursue STEM majors; that is to say, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. But without engineers and math majors, you and I would lack many things we take for granted in life. Convincing kids to pursue this difficult-but-necessary majors has taken a new approach thanks to MindDrive.
The MindDrive program helps at-risk teens from poor communities around Missouri, and the project began by taking the Ghia completely apart. This allowed the teens to get to know the car, as well as figure out what needed replacing. They then rebuilt the Karmann, using an electric drive system powered by six 12-volt batteries to give the all-electric Ghia a top speed of 45 mph and a range of around 30 miles. MindDrive students have also built an all-electric Lotus that gets 300 MPGe and drove across the country last June.
Hardly groundbreaking stuff, but it is important to get the next generation to realize the important of Science and Engineering to the future of humanity. Moreover, the Ghia is still a sexy car, one that could help instill a sense of purpose in even more next-generation researchers.