Sleek, sometimes strange-looking cars that run on electricity will be humming around a Cedar Falls parking lot today (Saturday) as part of the University of Northern Iowa’s annual Electrathon. Pat Higby, energy educator at U-N-I’s Center for Energy and Environmental Education, says about a dozen high school and college teams have built the one-person cars. Higby says it’s called a race but it’s really more of an endurance test. They have one hour on the track and whoever does the most laps wins. They usually cover 25 to 30 miles during that time, powered by just two car batteries. Higby says students have to use their math, science and technological skills to build the cars, in addition to their best business and language skills to get local businesses to sponsor their team. She says these home-built electric cars could change the future, given what we’re all paying for gasoline. Some estimates indicate hybrid gas/electric cars can get up to 200-miles to the gallon. Higby says “If these high school kids can build these cars, we know that our engineers can too.” While most of us keep pumping gas into the tanks of our traditional cars, trucks and S-U-V’s, she says these students will be thinking differently about their choices in vehicles. She says the primary driving most do is in town and she says you can plug in a car and run it for five to six cents per kilowatt hour. Inspections begin at 7 A.M with the first heat of the final race starting at 9:30 A.M. Teams taking part in today’s race are from: Cedar Rapids Kennedy, Cedar Rapids Prairie, Manson NW Webster, Muscatine, North Iowa Area Community College, Pomeroy-Palmer, Waukee, MFL MarMac, Pekin, Hubbard-Radcliffe, Forest City and Bayfield, Wisconsin.
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