Girls help charge electric car program

The hot pink seat was the highlight. It ripped, though, when someone sat in it (a boy, of course) and now they have a dark green one. But the Cover Girl make-up mirror remains.

“It looks pretty scrappy right now,” said sophomore Jessica Young as she eyed the odd-looking three-wheeled contraption and its canvas seat held on by zip-ties. The pink seat, she explained, had snaps and looked much better. “Zip-ties and duct tape are our best friend,” she added.

The seat, the creative rear-view mirror, the duct tape and the zip ties are all part of an electric car built by Young and several other girls as part of Hood River Valley High School’s electric car program.

The program was started last year by math teacher Jeff Blackman as an after-school project with eight students. It was the first year HRVHS had participated in a state-wide electric car race series sponsored by PGE called the Electron Run.

Last year’s program generated a lot of interest and Blackman had three teams worth of students turn out this year — including enough for an all-girls team.

The girls concur that they knew “absolutely nothing” about cars when they began building their car in January.

“Blackman helps us through the whole thing,” said sophomore Gena Folts. Aside from the ripped seat and a “very scary” roll-over during an early test drive at the high school’s track (“I still have a scar from it,” said sophomore Danielle Bohn), the car has performed well during the four races held so far around the state. The girls are one of only two all-girls teams state-wide.

The two HRVHS boys teams are made up of a half-dozen students — including senior Craig Dethman, the only one returning from last year’s project. Dethman used his expertise to build a much more technical car this year. Instead of a steel frame, Dethman’s car has a “uni-body” construction that is lighter — and faster.

“That’s in theory,” Dethman said. “I’m not sure if it’s really working or not.” Other technical advances over last year’s car include hydraulic brakes, rack-and-pinion steering and air vents to cool the motor. In last week’s race, Dethman and his team placed 23 out of 60.

“That’s the best we’ve done,” he said. “We were pretty excited about that.”

Blackman runs the program as a club but, thanks to a $5,400 grant from the Lions Club, has been working to transition it into a CIM-certified engineering class.

“I have all the pieces in place,” Blackman said. But the current school budget crisis has stalled the process. “I think with a little creative thinking, we could run the class next year with little or no extra money,” he said. Blackman currently has about 300 hours of time into the program and said he’s not sure he’ll have the time or energy to continue it next year unless he can run it as a regular class.

“The kids are also pressed for time and need classroom time to really learn about the electronics, physics and engineering that this project could provide,” he said. “As a club, they only have the time to get the car going and learn as they go.”

Blackman has received strong community support for the program. In addition to the Lions Club, other local businesses donating to the program include Mt. View Cycles, Napa Auto Parts, E and L Auto Parts, Air Time, Shred Alert, Storm Warning, Andrew’s Pizza and Hood River Supply.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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