IGNITE Summer 2019 | Page 8

Parking Lot Showdown Students Race Food Trucks to Raise Money At Saint Maximilian Kolbe School in West Chester, students are participating in a different kind of food fight. It’s called the Solar Food Truck Project. For this year’s assignment, eighth graders designed and built miniature solar-powered food trucks, each with its own signature dish. Then they raised funds for charity, engaging donors in the weeks leading up to a much-anticipated food truck race. “It’s not just learning something in a book or on paper,” says Patricia Frantz, the art teacher who oversaw the project alongside eighth grade teacher Patricia Guerin and science teacher Mary Riccardo. “If you’re about to race but your wheel falls off, what do you do? How do you finance your truck? The students learned to actually carry these concepts out in real life.” The cross-classroom collaboration began with a conversation among faculty. What started as a lesson on solar power became an opportunity to encourage creative food truck designs. Incorporating dishes and pricing brought math into the mix. The project rounded out with a tie-in to the yearly eighth-grade service project. “A lot of teachers will come to me to figure out how to make a lesson more hands-on and interdisciplinary,” Frantz says. “So you can take what you’re learning in one subject and put it through at least two or three other subjects.” 8 In this case, students got a full combination of science, art, math, technology, engineering, and service. Over three months, the students worked in pairs to build business plans and solar-powered vehicles for a total of 13 food trucks. The groups faced bumps along the way. To begin, the students wired solar panels and motors to their miniature wheelbases, capturing data on charts to determine the optimal angle for the solar panels. But the truck frames didn’t always align with their chosen food truck themes, forcing students to weigh priorities like speed and style, form and function.