The Automotive X Prize is a Competition to create a vehicle that gets the equivalent of 100 miles to the gallon, offering $10 million to the team that creates the most efficient technology. The Foundation also has a goal of offering education on these technologies, and is doing so at 16 science museums across the country. Two of those museums are in Missouri. Laurie Duncan is the Education Director at the Discovery Center in Springfield.
“The funding really allowed us to expand what we do here within our museum, and I think that was the intent of the grant program. Each museum is so unique; to give each museum the opportunity to develop resources unique to their own population and environment,” Duncan said.
After receiving grant money, the Discovery Center fostered a relationship with Missouri S&T this summer, and now has one of their solar cars on display. The museum also hosted special events, like one called “Race to the Green Flag,” which was a chance for families to work together to build their own car to race on a track at the museum.
“We just put out a bunch of stuff and invited our visitors to come in and make something new out of existing resources, which is at the heart of what scientists are trying to do with alternative fuels, to use existing resources to create something new,” Duncan said.
She says they wanted to make sure the grant money would also create some longer-term changes.
“Demonstrations that show these up and coming technologies, for example we invested in some kits that demonstrate solar hydrogen energy and how that is being used to potentially power vehicles, and some solar energy and biofuel demonstrations,” Duncan said.
Duncan says that the museum was already focused on educating people on renewable energy.
“So that when (families) walk into our museum they not only experience the hands-on exhibits but also have the opportunity to see in action some sustainable practices that they could implement within their own homes. So this emphasis on fuels and alternative fuels gave us the opportunity to expand some of the informal education options that we can give to our audience,” Duncan said.
The St. Louis Science Center is also a part of the National Education Program, and will have X-Prize themed events in August and September.