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High-schoolers get a charge out of statewide race

The Electric Electron Marathon “The Final Lap” on O‘ahu, where students from Kaua‘i High School and Waimea High School will race their electric cars, will go on rain or shine.

The students have a full day ahead of them today as they are scheduled to have their vehicles inspected today, give their oral presentations for their projects this afternoon and have the drivers of the teams meet with the Sports Car Club of America’s Hawaii Region, which governs the race.

The race will measure how many laps the student-built vehicles can complete in one hour under the power of two electric batteries. The cars will also be judged on the vehicle’s design, construction and safety.

Returning member Kaua‘i High’s racing team Harrison Yamamoto said this year, they made changes.

“Last year, we went with four wheels. This year, we went with a three-wheel design for the car,” Yamamoto said. “That itself presented problems we had to overcome.”

Yamamoto said several parts of the car had to be modified, from the braking system to the drip train where the energy is transferred to the wheels.

“We did several test runs before we could get it running for an hour,” Yamamoto said.

Charlie Kato, one of Kaua‘i High School’s drivers, said the key to making sure the car runs for at least an hour is to keep the speed of the car at a constant, preferably 25 miles per hour.

“Keeping it at a constant makes for less battery drainage,” Kato said.

The starting and stopping of the car also drains the battery a little.

“You have to stop halfway (through the race), and you don’t want to stop,” he said. “The pit crew is going to work as fast as they can.”

For this, the two teams practiced changing the tires and troubleshooting.

The students were given a kit from the Hawaiian Electric Company of basic parts to build their car.

They will compete with their cars against 28 other schools from across the state. The combined scores from the race, design and presentation will determine the Electron Marathon “Best In Show.”

Lanaly Cabalo, lifestyle writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 237) or lcabalo@kauaipubco.com.

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