With a race time of less than a second, junior Sarah Gilreath and senior Jessica Olson had the fastest car at the annual Jenkins High School CO2 car races on May 29.
Their winning car finished in .987 seconds.
Juniors Ben Johnstone and Caleb Wiebe came in second with a time of 1.011 seconds.
CO2 car races are hosted by JHS each year as part of a hands-on project to teach students about applying classroom lessons to practical situations.
The cars are made of balsa wood and powered by CO2 cartridges. JHS students in physics, IPS (Integrated Physical Science), and vocational classes designed, carved, built and painted them in a 3-4 week class unit.
In addition, Gess Elementary students built and raced their own cars through the After School All Stars program for their third trimester hands-on science activity. The All-Stars designed, sanded and painted a car with the help of high school students who cut out their designs.
Unlike the previous year, JHS Science Teacher Jim Biancardi said this year they were able to time the cars on one of the two tracks set up in the JHS Gym with an old timer they fixed. He said each car raced on the timed track, and the other track was used as a “grunge track” for cars to race each other.
Biancardi said the CO2 car unit teaches students about aerodynamics, staying within specifications, and how to reduce airflow. If they did not follow specifications exactly, the cars were disqualified from the race. He also said one of the most challenging parts of building the cars is getting the wheels to align just right.
The project also utilizes the basics of STEM, which is a national program focusing on applying science, technology, engineering and math concepts to classroom projects. It is targeted toward students of all ages, kindergarten through college.
Biancardi said many Chewelah teachers have attended local STEM workshops this year. In his own classes, they have applied STEM to many projects and even partnered with Eastern Washington University for free training and equipment loan.
Biancardi said building CO2 cars is a fun as well as educational activity and participants of all ages enjoyed it equally, including parents who attended the race day to support their students.
By Kellie Trudeau, The Independent Staff
In This Photo: CO2 powered cars race at the JHS CO2 car races on May 29. These cars were built by student Brandon Smith (left) and teacher Kevin Kernan (right). Michael Barone photo