Porcupine Plain Comprehensive School’s Applied Engineering Team has been building an electric go-kart and then racing it. Photo courtesy of Brockston Riley Photo courtesy of Brockston Riley

Porcupine Plain Comprehensive School is giving students new and exciting opportunity to explore mechanics with a very hands-on approach.

Brockston Riley, Applied Arts teacher in Porcupine Plain Comprehensive School, is the teacher hosting the school’s extracurricular Applied Engineering Team. This year, the team has been working on creating an electric go-kart and then racing it.

Riley, who’s taught at the school since 2019, said they were extended an invitation to join Swervin Mini Indy’s School EV Challenge. Swervin Mini Indy is a Regina-based non-profit that hosts go-kart racing events for team building and fund raising. This is the second year they’ve hosted this challenge. Last year, it was mostly southern Saskatchewan city schools participating, but they are expanding north this year.

“At Porcupine Plain Composite School we have a number of students who are very talented with fabrication, problem solving, welding and mechanics. When we were invited into this go-kart challenge, we jumped at the opportunity. The basis of the challenge is to take a bare go kart chassis (provided by Swervin Mini Indy), and create a braking system, and electric drivetrain while staying within the rules laid out by Swervin Mini Indy,” Riley said.

Riley has been an automotive enthusiast for many years, an interest fostered from a young age. He attributes this to the Industrial Arts program in Melfort where he attended high school.

“We have a unique Industrial Arts program here at PPCS where we teach carpentry at our school shop, but we also have an offsite shop facility that has been certified for the students to learn welding and mechanics. In the past few years our school division has really embraced offsite learning in a number of facets such as a parcel of land by Love, Sask. to teach outdoor education,” Riley said.

“To get the process started, we started in the fall at our offsite welding and mechanics shop meeting every Wednesday evening. You will see the majority of the footage in our video to be in this shop. Our first racing event took place in Saskatoon at Prairieland Park Hall E where we able to compete with twelve other schools from across the province. We are scheduled to have one more race in Moose Jaw June 17 for anyone who wants to come out! Info will be on the Swervin Mini Indy Facebook page.”

The students involved in building the first go-kart was: Ty Burghardt (Grade 12), Triston Henry (Grade 12), Desirae Burghardt (Grade 12), Aidan Smith (Grade 12), Angelo Ponce (Grade 12), Autum Mansuy (grade 11), Nick Patchin (Grade 11), Liam Stewart (Grade 11), Nevaeh Mansuy (Grade 10)

“We are able to keep the cart for the next year to continue improvements and make it faster,” Riley said. “As the Mini Indy school challenge grows there will be new challenges for us in our second year, third year, and so on.”

The big concepts the students learned about were about: hydraulic braking systems, how to create an electric vehicle drivetrain, and autobody. Many long evenings were spent throughout the last fall/winter learning about automotive components, working out details on how this could all fit together, and when the theory was done, there was still plenty of metal cutting, grinding, and welding.

This whole year students have been learning to play to each other’s strengths.

“Some are stronger at 3-D modelling, some are better welders, but the important part is that they work together,” Riley said. The week leading up to our first race was very formative in this. We still had to finish the wiring harness, prime, basecoat, and clear coat the kart body, which required every available waking moment of the week before the race. Students break down the work into autobody at lunch and between classes, then wiring and final chassis work in the evenings. We finished the kart around midnight on Friday and left the school at 5 a.m. the next morning for the race in Saskatoon.”

The school acknowledged the support of Bourgault Industries in St. Brieux, Parkland Co-op, and Cropper Motors in Naicam, which either provided students with experiences such as tours and presentations or financial support for go-kart parts.

By Nicole Goldsworthy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jun 01, 2023 at 10:54

This item reprinted with permission from   Humboldt Journal   Humboldt, Saskatchewan

Comments are Welcome - Leave a reply below - Posts are moderated