Three elementary school boys from Living Wisdom School in Shoreline, WA took on a class project to create an electric go-cart. Not only is it electric, but made of all recycled/previously used parts and materials.
On the surface, this looks like a story of teaching kids about electronics, innovation, carpentry, going green….Turns out they learned about life’s greatest lessons in the process.
In this multi-aged classroom, where emphasis is put on fostering an "education for life", school volunteer and mentor, James "Narada" Agee, an electrician by trade, had the vision to use an electric wheelchair motor to make an electric cart. Meeting their curious, inventive and highly creative nature, these boys embraced this 5 month project through to the end.
Students began obtaining the materials including an electric wheelchair donated by The Donor's Closet, previously used car seats, discarded wood remnants, etc. To closely monitor the spending for this project, with another learning opportunity in mind, the kids started a spreadsheet.
In January the 3 boys, Zachary Huang and Stuart Kuehne, both 10, and Travis Neils, 12, started the project with Narada's guidance. Meeting nearly weekly at a nearby shop, and sometimes on Saturdays, the group began the challenging task of removing the wheelchair motor and building a go-cart and setting it up to run. The kids were eager to build the electric cart for the three of them to ride, complete with a joy stick and decked out in the school colors. Narada kept track of the progress by taking pictures of the process. The students learned how to operate the equipment of the shop for the job.
Just as the electric cart was approaching its completion, Narada suddenly passed away, leaving an electric cart primed and near completion and the boys stunned and heart broken. It was the end of April and the boys were determined to honor the work and dedication put forth by their teacher and enlisted the assistance of others in the community to finish their creation. The electric cart, now called the LIVING WISDOM SCHOOL STORMER, was dedicated to Narada in a ceremony at the school upon its completion in mid May. His picture is attached to the back and a custom license plate was made to commemorate Narada's efforts.
As a parent and on-looker, this experience has been life altering for both the students and the greater community alike. My son in particular, Zachary, worked with Narada on other projects and became accustomed to looking up to Narada as a "Grandfather" figure. Seeing this project through to completion was special for the students. Narada's death has punctuated his life of service. In mourning such a loss, my son looks back fondly on the many things he has learned with much appreciation. He has also chosen to emulate Narada's noteworthy qualities of patience, perseverance, honesty, dedication, respect, honor, happiness, peace and many others.
Who would have thought that making a go-cart would change a life in such a profound way? When it comes to the life of a child, strong mentor-ship and honoring children's high ambitions are priceless.
You may view more photos of the electric cart at http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.2025719444624.2121614.1293166152&l=669a0aa898