Northridge High School

Northridge High School have been awarded the Road Safety Stipend in the 2020 Americas Off-Tracks by demonstrating how they put safety first with their comprehensive travel plan.

About the Road Safety Stipend

The Road Safety Stipend is awarded to the team with the best travel safety plan that describes how the team ensures their travel to and from the event is as safe as possible.

What they achieved

For this project, the team at Northridge High School divided responsibilities for the different systems of the car. So, one student who was interested in improving his CAD skills, managed that part of the process, while two other students shared the business responsibilities, including ordering parts and managing the team’s fundraising and budget. Ultimately, everyone worked together, helped with the physical aspects of building the vehicle and learned new skills along the way.

The team take safety seriously and put travel plans in place with safety at the forefront. They developed a Code of Conduct outlining expectations for the trip that all team members and parents were required to sign and communicated behavioral expectations to ensure students were focused and committed to the common goal and avoided distractions.

Other noteworthy precautions included ensuring an appropriate adult-to-student ratio; booking non-stop flights to eliminate the risk of minors roaming airports during layovers, getting lost or missing connecting flights; booking close proximity seating arrangements on flights; and providing a packing checklist to ensure students were equipped with comfortable, weather-appropriate attire.

As the team made each travel choice, they talked about the best way to minimize potential issues. They had a strong incentive to reach consensus on every choice because without a good plan, they might not have received approval for the trip from the school. The team also needed their car to arrive safely and found the perfect solution when a local company offered to transport the trailer as an in-kind donation.

Finally, the team held a parent meeting to review the trip itinerary, which included details on travel, accommodation, a schedule of events, important onsite contact information, and additional needs for students to prepare for the trip, from camping gear to supplemental snacks. They required emergency contact, allergy and health insurance information, and equipped themselves with their own first aid kits so they would be prepared to handle any unfortunate scenario.

“We had a lot of challenges along the way this year as we worked on the car. Learning about systems and the best way to build was a constant. So, talking to experts in the community and doing research helped us find solutions that worked.”

What obstacles did the team face?

In December 2020, the school shop was shut down for several weeks, so students moved the vehicle to a garage shop at one of their homes and spent their Christmas break working to make up for lost time.

Then, upon returning from the break, the school was recovering from a malware attack, leaving the students with no internet access or laptops for several weeks. Still, they persevered and accomplished what they needed to, even if it had to happen outside of school hours.

Why the judges believed they deserve to win?

“Northridge High School prepared a comprehensive travel plan, including all relevant activities and important information for a safe trip; such as itinerary, emergency contact lists and first aid.”

Lead Judge: Bernd Marx, BGroup General Manager - Road Safety, Shell

Advice for future Shell Eco-marathon participants

  • Create a timing chart with all the major goals and individual tasks that need to be completed. Estimate more time than you think and remember there will be snags along the way that will interrupt your progress. Be prepared for them by allowing extra time in your schedule.
  • Ensure all team members are familiar with the Shell Eco-marathon Americas rules. Assign one team member to become an expert, and as you make decisions, be sure to evaluate your decisions against the rules.
  • Stay focused on your goals even in the early weeks of the project. Let your enjoyment come from accomplishing small tasks together!

Learn more about the winning team

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