When choosing team sports and extracurricular activities this semester, you probably haven't considered go-kart building. But if you're someone who may one day drive an automobile and enjoys a little friendly competition, perhaps you should.
This is a project for 8 high school students to build 2 off-road go-karts. Start from a set of plans and a pile of metal, end racing your friends along dirt trails throughout central Virginia. There's no better way to learn about how cars work than to build one yourself.
Here's how it works. Eight students will be randomly divided into two teams, each led by their own instructor. Each team will come up with a plan, choosing their design and features (two wheel drive, suspension, engine type, transmission, etc.), all within the constraints of their $1200 budget, and spend eight weeks bringing their kart to life. Once built, students will travel throughout central Virginia racing each other on dirt trails and spending class time making necessary repairs.
Students will learn to safety and effectively use a variety of tools including metal cutting saws, drills, grinders, welders, and more as they work through the following major content areas:
- reading and interpretting detailed plans
- metal cutting, grinding, drilling, and bending
- welding and general fabrication
- suspension and traction
- 4-stroke engine principles
- chain driven power transmission
- bearings and shaft coupling methods
- fastener strength
- tire beading and de-beading
This class meets Tuesdays from 6:30 - 8:30pm and Sundays from 1-4pm. Starting February 23rd and ending May 16th. This is approximately 40 hours of instruction and 12 hours of driving.
The first eight weeks focus on making the go-karts, while the subsequent four weekends will be spent racing your custom rides.
This project is for students ages 14 to 19. The early registration fee is $275 before January 31st, and $300 afterwards. Students need to commit to missing no more than one class, unless caused by illness or extenuating circumstances. This is a collaborative project and absences are very disruptive.
One scholarship is available by application on the Scholarships tab. The application period closes January 31st and the applicants will be notified by February 6th.
Is it dangerous for a novice welder to make their own go-kart?
This will be the most thoroughly inspected go-kart you will ever ride. We will make use of all necessary safety gear whether it's eye and ear protection during fabrication or a full face helmet while racing, but this of course does not remove all risk. Power tool use and go-kart driving come with a risk that you'll have to evaluate for yourself.
Where will we drive the go-karts?
Various locations within 30 minutes of Vector Space: state trails, private farms, etc.
How fast will the go-karts be?
It depends who's asking. If you're a parent, they'll go 10 mph, if you're a teenager, 25 mph.
I know absolutely nothing about cars or metalworking, but this sounds fun. Will everyone laugh at me if I participate?
Of course not, this is the perfect opportunity to learn.
What will happen to the go-karts after the project ends?
The go-karts will be auctioned off.
What about COVID-19?
Face masks and frequent hand washing will be required during this program. Social distancing will be implemented as often as possible, but students will sometimes need to work closely in a shared space with shared tools. Tools will be cleaned prior to use by students, and the health of each student will be assessed regularly. With this small group (eight students) we will be able to quickly alert participants of any known COVID exposures and the program will be halted if such a situation arises. Parents and students will need to review and sign this COVID-19 Student Behavior Agreement prior to project participation.