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Small town central Utah school finds success in high tech build it yourself competition

Posted at 10:18 PM, May 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-28 00:26:09-04

GUNNISON, Utah — A small town school in central Utah has found success in a high tech build it yourself competition.

Students in Evan Westenskow's 8th grade engineering class, or "Mr. Dubs" as he's affectionally known by the kids, say he assembles his teams each year based in part on their work ethic, "We've pulled together a team for the year and we based it off of hard working students who get along well together and can work as a team and I think that's as big as anything to attribute to our success."

Fox 13 went into the classroom recently to see the kids at work on their green car that runs on a 9 volt battery, a program partially funded through Utah State University's GearUp program and the Governor's Office of Energy Development.

"It's been an amazing year for us," Connor Saulter told FOX 13's Amy Nay, "We won first place overall and I want to thank our teacher, Mr. Dubs."

"It's really fun," student Jerry Turijan said, "It's a really exciting class. I never thought I would take this class. It sounded boring at first but it was really fun to take it."

These students are part of about a dozen in the group who learn science, math and engineering by building this car from scratch. But in addition to these STEM concepts, they also have to figure out how to work together.

Westenskow says they're able to take these kit cars that are 100 percent electric and teach the kids about green energy and alternative energy power, "But boy, it's been fun. We've been pretty successful. I'm not going to lie."

They've won pretty much every time they've raced!

"If I had a piece of wood here to knock on, I would, since I don't want to jinx it, but yeah, we've got a good thing going here."

Student Knightly Childs said, "It's probably one of my favorite things to do during school. You just get to come here and get to work well as a team.We trust each other. And our car was just fantastic. It looked amazing. It was just really fun."

Nathan Willden said he almost didn't sign up for this experience, but is glad he did, "I was going to do PE instead of it, but I'm glad I took this class. It was so fun. We got to make lots of projects. We were never sitting around."

It was just last month at the Utah Motorsports campus when GVMS beat out all the competition, other middle and high school teams and even colleges, to take the traveling golden wheel trophy.

"Our mechanics of our car is I think our biggest thing to our claim to fame. We spend a lot of time making sure the simple things, the tires are aligned well, and that just that everything is running and rolling along smoothly, we've switched over to some smaller tires if we're talking about engineering aspects it has a lot less road friction and a lot less rolling mass and I think that's our secret to success," Westenskow said.

The student said the thought of competing against so many others and many much bigger schools was nervewrecking, but they soon got into their groove.

"Scary going up, but once we got there it wasn't so bad, and I don't know, it was fun," Willden said.

And Westenskow says for what it really teaches his kids, that confidence it helps instill in them, it's worth all the effort, "We have a lot to offer down here and I love the opportunity to let these kids shine and see what their true potential is, and as an educator that's the dream come true right there."