The fifth and sixth class pupils at Carnaross NS outside Kells in Co. Meath have been so inspired by The Great Electric Drive this year that they have set about investigating whether ecars would be the answer to making travel in their community more sustainable and have had their project accepted for the RDS Primary Science Fair this January. The pupils decided to carry out the project which included primary research into the driving habits of parents in their community and attitudes towards the use of ecars. The pupils also investigated the carbon footprint of the group surveyed and estimated the potential reduction in both carbon emissions and fuel costs if ecars were used as an alternative. The pupils also set about debunking the myths and common misconceptions about ecars that came up in the parent’s attitude survey, through the use of a poster display and developing an information booklet for parents about electric cars which was distributed at an information stand during the school’s Green-Schools Travel Action Day.
Carnaross NS is a rural primary school of 150 pupils and the project surveyed 50 families in their community to find out what parents attitudes were to questions such as ‘Would you buy an ecar?’ and ‘Do you know what financial incentives are available?’. The survey found that only 38% of parents would consider buying an ecar and that concerns about a lack of charge points, followed by concerns that the range of ecars is too limited were the two most common reasons recorded. The pupils followed their findings up with a travel log where they asked the families to record their journeys for one week and then worked out the average mileage per day and average fuel cost. They concluded that up to 80% of families travelled less than 100kms a day in their first or second car and found that the range of an ecar should not be a limiting factor for the majority of families in Carnaross. By modelling a year of driving on the data collected from families over one week, the pupils deduced that over 600 tonnes of carbon dioxide was begin produced by the families surveyed and this could be reduced by almost 200 tonnes through the use of ecars.
The pupils took their findings and carried out a fact finding mission using the internet, interviews with ecar ambassadors and contacting ecar manufactuers and then designed a ‘Myth Busting’ poster about electric vehicles which addressed concerns raised in their attitude survey. The myths included ‘Plug-ins will crash the electric grid’, ‘Electric cars are dangerous to pedestrians’ and ‘It takes a long time to charge an electric vehicle’, ‘Electric cars are small and impractical’. The pupils went a step further and compared the incentives available to potential ecar owners in countries such as the UK, Monaco, the Netherlands and Norway. The pupils show-cased their work at a recent Travel Action Day where parents were invited in to discuss the findings with pupils at their electric car information stand. The mood in the school is ‘electric’ now in the run up to the Primary Science Fair this January in the RDS and pupils have put it on their Christmas wish list to have their first short journey in an electric vehicle. Well done to the pupils and teachers in Carnaross on this well researched and informative project and good luck in January!