The Lake Land College technology division recently gave a presentation to two classes at Arland D. Williams, Jr. Elementary School in Mattoon. Students in Mrs. Livingston and Mrs. Ifft’s fifth grade classes met with Tim Van Dyke, technology division chair and civil engineering technology instructor, to discuss renewable energy.
“We have been working on an energy unit for the last two weeks,” said Debbie Livingston, fifth grade teacher. “We began by defining what energy is and then progressed from there to sources of energy. Those discussions transitioned into alternative energy sources and potential solutions for the future and during one of the discussions, a student mentioned the battery powered car at Lake Land.”
For the presentation, Van Dyke took the Lake Land College Lightning Bug, a 1972 Volkswagen Super Beetle that was converted from gas power to electric, for a real-world alternative energy lesson.
“We opened up the bug so the students could see the batteries that make it run in addition to the other renewable components of the vehicle,” said Van Dyke.
According to Livingston, students couldn't contain their enthusiasm when exploring the car, which runs on 16 six-volt batteries rather than gasoline.
“Up to that point, [an electric vehicle] was just something that we discussed as a possible solution to slow down our consumption of fossil fuels,” said Livingston. “Seeing the converted bug really brought science to life for the students!”
After the presentation, both teachers got a chance to drive the car.
“The students were completely tickled that we were able to drive the car,” said Livingston. “They had a lot of questions after we returned to the classroom about what it was like, and I told them that it didn't get any better than driving a battery powered ‘Lightning Bug.’ They are all looking forward to getting their licenses now so they can drive it!”
Additionally, students discussed with Van Dyke how to harness energy from the sun, wind, water and fuel cells.