On Friday afternoon, Jeffersontown High School students will put project-based learning to the test when they compete in a series of solar go-kart races as part of the school’s Solar Challenge—highlighting the value of real-world, project-based learning in the classroom.
Through a partnership with Ford Next Generation Learning (Ford NGL), the Ford Louisville Assembly Plant (LAP), the Solar Energy Solutions company and the City of Jeffersontown, all Jeffersontown High School sophomores, juniors and seniors had a specific role this school year while working in teams to design and build solar go-karts. Students will drive the go-karts in timed races during Friday’s race-day celebration at the school campus, which will also feature student exhibits and a car show showcasing cars of the past, present and future.
“We know that the abilities to create, innovate and solve challenging problems are all important skills for our students to develop and learn, because we know how essential those skills are in today’s workforce,” said Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) Director of College & Career Readiness Christy Rogers. “That’s why these kinds of hands-on, project-based learning experiences are so beneficial to our students, as are the powerful community partnerships we have with companies, like Ford, that help make them a success.”
Jeffersontown High is one of the district’s career-theme schools for engineering (manufacturing and construction), where students may earn an industry certification while earning a high school diploma. Students at Jeffersontown High invest time developing marketable skills in high-demand areas such as computer-aided design (CAD), advanced manufacturing, industrial maintenance technology (IMT), machine tool technology, engineering and welding.
Designated a Powered by Ford Academy in 2013, Jeffersontown High and its students benefit from unique opportunities to work with Ford Motor Company employees. Over the past four years, Ford LAP employees have invested time partnering with the school to host field trips, provide job shadow opportunities, hire students for internships and partner with teachers to develop unique lessons involving real-world challenges. Additionally, the Ford Motor Company Fund sponsored the purchase of the materials for the solar panel go-karts.
Throughout the school year, Jeffersontown engineering students served as project managers for the Solar Challenge; students studying computer-aided design created prints for the go-karts; advanced manufacturing and IMT students installed the solar panels; machine tool technology and welding students completed the fabrication; and English, math and science students helped with technical writing, ratios and energy calculations. Freshman students built solar car models on their own to help guide their interest in one of the many career programs offered at Jeffersontown.