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Bill Gillies - Editor

Teenager builds electric car to fight global warming

Jenn Savedge has a blog on the Mother Nature Network and today she posted her interview with Alaskan teenager Bart Grabman, who has converted an old Volkswagen Super Beetle to run on electricity.  Grabman is a high-school student and avid skier, and worries about global warming.  He says the declining snow levels he is witnessing first-hand in the northern state motivated him to build the eco-sensitive car.  The vehicle is not yet finished, but he has taken it out for test drives in front of his house.  It’s a good example of the Net Generation’s desire to innovate.

Bart Grabman's electric Volkswagen Super Beetle

Bart Grabman's electric Volkswagen Super Beetle

Some excerpts from the interview:

Mother Nature Network: What inspired you to build an electric car?

Grabman: I was taking a class at school called Passages, and the purpose of the class was to take something that you’re interested in and expand on it in some way. For instance, in the past, one student who had an interest in carpentry built a gazebo for students to enjoy during lunch. I had two interests that I wanted to expand upon. I wanted to do something to help the environment, and I wanted to learn more about cars. So I thought it would be interesting to combine the two ideas into one project. Building an electric car just seemed like a logical next step.

MNN: How much did you know about cars before you started this project?

Grabman: I pretty much knew nothing about automotive technology when I started this project. But I’ve done a lot of learning. One good thing is that I choose a VW Super Beetle over a more modern, complex car. This has been really helpful because it’s relatively simple in terms of the mechanisms and the motor. The VW Super Beetle is pretty basic so it was a good place to start … especially with my lack of knowledge.

MNN: What would you say has been your biggest obstacle in completing this project?

Grabman: Time and money. I’m a high school student, and I have a lot of stuff going on, so I don’t have a lot of time or money to spare. But there have been a lot of people who have helped me out on this project in some way or another. So I’ve never had any trouble getting things done when I do actually work on them. But just finding that time is one of the hardest things.

MNN: What advice do you have for other teenagers who are looking to try a project like this?

Grabman: Find something that you’re interested in and don’t be discouraged by setbacks because there will of course always be some setbacks … if not many. But the results will definitely outweigh the troubles. As long as you follow through, it’s going to be a very rewarding experience when you’re finished.

Tags: Family, School/College


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