Discovery GreenPower Team builds electric vehicles

MADISON – Freddie Griffin of Discovery Middle School has been proud to lead his 35 students each year in GreenPower endeavors.

“Each year we learn something new because of the competition and challenges that we face,” Griffin said. Griffin teaches STEM classes and coaches football and track.

GreenPower presents engineering challenges for designing and building an electric-powered car. Students learn how to use tools to design new concepts using industry-leading technology.

“Being part of the Madison community sure has its benefits, and Discovery GreenPower is taking advantage of it. The team (also called ‘Panther Racing’) has competed since 2015 after a massive donation by Northrop Grumman,” Griffin said.

GreenPower participation has skyrocketed. Prospective members must complete screening and applications and submit a resume and teacher references.

“It’s always a strenuous process to choose 35 students each year,” Griffin said.

Students use 3D printers for innovating parts, voltmeters for troubleshooting and testing, computers for presentations and planning, blow torches for welding and basic tools like screwdrivers, wrenches and plyers for assembly.

Their objective is to build the fastest car to run the most laps in 90 minutes. The car runs on two 12-volt rechargeable batteries.

Discovery’s competition schedule will cover Alabama and sites in Georgia:

* Whitesburg Middle School, Huntsville, Oct. 19

* Grissom High School, Huntsville, Nov. 9

* Long Cane Middle School, Lagrange, Ga., Dec. 7

* Oxford, Jan. 25, 2020

* LaGrange, Ga., Feb. 29, 2020

* Hazel Green, March 14, 2020

* Jemison High School, Huntsville, May 2, 2020

Along with critical thinking in real-world applications, students gain experience in fundraising, proposal writing and sponsorship.

“These skills have led a multitude of Madison and far-away businesses to contribute to the team’s success,” Griffin said. He expressed gratitude to companies that helped his students raise more than $9,000 this year.

John Allison, eighth-grade project lead believes companies donate because “they value our future and skillset. Thank you for your support. We appreciate all you do.”

With recent donations, “I know we can do more. We can get a 3D printer and design more things for both cars,” Allison said.

This season, Northrop Grumman, Walmart, ASM Materials, Optimist Club and PPG have given team grants. Other local businesses have contributed with sponsorships and donations, including Redstone Federal Credit Union, Home Depot, Lowe’s, NAPA, Window World, Breland Homes, CyberProtex, Surgery Center, R&R Adventures, ESI, Landers McClarty Chevrolet, along with support from friends and families.

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