The M. Agnes Jones ‘Rapid Racers’ won the Spirit of Greenpower Award at the Greenpower Competition in LaGrange, Ga. for working through adversity, supporting fellow competitors and holding themselves to a high standard.

The elementary school seven student team was the first and only Atlanta Public School to compete in the competition against schools from across the state.

The school’s Instructional Technology Specialist, Shayla McGhee said that even though the Rapid Racers placed tenth overall, the students are already talking about improvements and ways they can get better for next year’s competition.

“It was all a learning experience, but now they want to redesign their car,” McGhee said.

In addition to the kit that the students use to build their car, the Greenpower project also comes with a curriculum that McGhee said directly ties into what the kids are learning in the classroom.

The Rapid Racers pose with their Spirit of Greenpower Award (Photo Courtesy of M. redefinED atlanta)

“They’re talking about force and motion, energy, circuitry— all of these things that go into the car and how the car works and moves, that applies to a lot of the standards that the students are learning about in class,” she added.

In addition to the STEAM component, McGhee added that the students are learning about teamwork and cooperation. She said they made sure to discuss with the students why their Greenpower car is more sustainable than a go-kart or gasoline powered car.

The majority of the Rapid Racers are older students because in order to drive the car they must be at least nine-years-old. 

However, McGhee said, after speaking with some of the other teams at the competition they’re going to start including the younger 3rd graders and some 2nd graders as time keepers or members of the pit crew.

“It’s something that allows them to be on the team and learn, but not necessarily drive the car,” she said.

The team has already begun preparing for their next competition which will be in Alabama on April 30.

“We’re going to work on how they can better their times so they can win more heats,” she said.

The Rapid Racers were able to enter this competition after being awarded a grant from redefinED atlanta.

This article is one of a series of articles produced by The Atlanta Voice through support provided by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to Word In Black, a collaborative of 10 Black-owned media outlets across the country.

Madeline Thigpen is an education reporter and Report for America Corps Member. She joined the Atlanta Voice in 2021. At the Voice she covers K-12 education for the Atlanta metro region and higher education....