Blood, sweat and sun at The Skokie School

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A peppy group went to The Skokie School in Winnetka on Wednesday to talk about the solar car and engineering with the school’s fifth graders. Jess Sudo drove SC5 to the school, with Matthew Filak, Dan Cornew, Jonathan Cook, Nacho Estrada and I in the lead and chase vehicles. The right front tire went flat on the way, so as soon as we got to the school, Dan got down to changing it.

One minute we’re sweating in our purple polos, admiring the becolumned facade of the school, and the next minute a geyser of blood is erupting from Dan’s right forearm. “Oh, man,” he said as he continued to change the tire. The rest of us freaked out and made him go to the school nurse. The looks on the middle schoolers’ faces as Dan walked through the hallways clutching his arm and leaving a trail of blood were memorable.

The nurse could tell Dan needed stitches, so she suggested to get to the emergency room right away. Jonathan offered to drive him, but the nurse insisted he call his mom. She also gave him a juice box. Dan felt fine; I felt light-headed and needed to sit down.

After Dan was safely in the care of his mama, the rest of us went to the auditorium to greet our first batch of fifth graders. The kids had recently participated in “Invention Convention,” a very cool project in which everyone uses the invention process to come up with and build an invention. Some kids built Rube-Goldberg machines. A few inventions were a toothbrush that dispenses its own toothpaste, a Rube-Goldberg dog feeder and even a solar powered radio (this wasn’t successfully built, but awesome initiative, kid!)

After a short presentation about the team and the solar car, we brought the kids outside to see (but absolutely not touch) the car. A few pretended to be coolly uninterested, but I could tell they were very excited. They asked a ton of great questions, including “How does the energy get into the car?”, “How do you decide how many cells go on the car?”, “How do you drive at night?” and my personal favorite, “How did you all get here in that thing?”

The kids were all really cute, but there are rules about pictures of minors’ faces. But trust me, they were all smiling.

At the end of the day, all the fifth grade classes lined up outside to watch us drive away. I hope they learned something. Dan got six stitches.

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