Over 800 children from across Middlesbrough will take part in a new initiative to build electric cars, ahead of a green Grand Prix at Teesside Autodrome in the spring.
The Middlesbrough Electric Car project - which is being sponsored by energy network operator National Grid - will involve students from Oakfields Community College and eight primary schools from across Middlesbrough. Each of the schools has been provided with a flat-pack 'Formula Goblin' car and the necessary equipment to assemble the vehicle.
The project aims to promote the practical application of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) skills to children by linking education, industry and community through inspirational engineering projects.
Each primary school can choose how they wish to manage the project - with some choosing to introduce it as part of the curriculum, whilst others are organising after-school clubs and encouraging parents to get involved.
Michael Hutton, Principal of Oakfields Community College, said:
"The Middlesbrough Electric Car project is about inspiring children and young people and showing them what they can achieve using STEM skills.
"Middlesbrough has a long and proud industrial heritage. However, the collapse of traditional industries has resulted in some local areas becoming mired in long-term unemployment.
"Whilst we should be rightly proud of this industrial past, we need to prepare our children for the industries of tomorrow. Green technology is part of that future and Middlesbrough is perfectly positioned to thrive in this market."
The cars have a top speed of 15mph and take around 15 hours to assemble. They can easily be dismantled and rebuilt after each year to allow a new year group the chance to complete the project from scratch. Engineering undergraduate students from Teesside University will also provide technical assistance.
Mark Brennan, project manager at National Grid, said:
"We're thrilled to be able to support this project. One of the greatest challenges we face as an industry is renewing our workforce.
"A significant proportion of our industrial staff - including linesmen, cable jointers and engineers - are due retire within the next ten years. At the same time, universities are receiving decreasing interest in core subjects for engineering.
"The industry-wide apprenticeship schemes are already helping to plug this gap but we still need to show people from a young age what engineering is and how exciting and rewarding it can be."
The primary schools involved in the project are Archibald Primary School, Beech Grove Primary School, Ayresome Primary School, Abingdon Primary School, Green Lane Primary School, Newham Bridge Primary School, Linthorpe Community Primary School, Breckon Hill Primary School and Newport Primary School.
National Grid are currently refurbishing a number of sections of overhead power line in the North-East and next year will be building two 145 metre-high pylons carrying a line across the River Tees which will then be the largest in the UK.
The company is spending a total of £65m on this work on lines around Middlesbrough and between Murton and Hartlepool. The work will keep the lines in good working order to ensure that everyone has the power they need, at the flick of a switch.
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National Grid (LSE: NG; NYSE:NGG) is an electricity and gas company that connects consumers to energy sources through its networks. The company is at the heart of one of the greatest challenges facing our society - to create new, sustainable energy solutions for the future and developing an energy system that underpins economic prosperity in the 21st century. National Grid holds a vital position at the centre of the energy system and we 'join everything up'.
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