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Heroes Alliance brings STEM activities to NextEnergy

By Posted on November 6, 2014

This past summer, a team of eight Detroit middle and high school students worked in NextEnergy Center’s “lab 6” to build a dune buggy and convert it to run on electric power.  But they didn’t do it alone. Volunteers (aka, “coaches”) from Heroes Alliance spent endless hours teaching, troubleshooting, and guiding these talented future leaders – staying true to the Heroes Alliance mission of building a community of resourced and empowered individuals who see and use education as a path to success.

On October 7, the students invited family, friends, coaches, sponsors and media to NextEnergy Center for a showcase of their hard work. And they did all of the heavy lifting! They drafted the press release, developed PowerPoint presentations, rehearsed timing, reached out to the media, worked with NextEnergy staff to tweak the lighting and sound, organized snacks and beverages, prepped the dune buggy, developed a program, and even cleaned their lab.

During the event, the students demonstrated their vehicle’s technology and spoke to the audience about what they learned, before closing with a tour of their sparkling lab. It was an event that would make any parent, friend, coach or sponsor proud.

Guests were also given the opportunity to meet students like Cydney Gardner-Brown, a 10th grader at Renaissance High School in Detroit. Gardner-Brown shared, “I was always intimidated by science and math, but I have learned that I’m actually pretty good at it.” Below is the entire student team:

• Mecca Evans – 10th Grade, Renaissance High School
• Cydney Gardner-Brown – 10th Grade, Renaissance High School
• Jahmar Hearndon – 8th Grade, West Middle School
• Taylor Lawson – 10th Grade, Cass Tech High School
• Omari Reedus – 11th Grade, Martin Luther King High School
• Kalen Riley – 10th Grade, University High School
• Alexia White – 10th Grade, Detroit School of Arts and Sciences
• Andre Lipke – 10th grader, Home-schooled

Ultimately, the students are gearing up for the High School Solar Car Challenge – a national competition taking place next year in Texas. In addition to travel expenses, they’re looking to raise $12,000 to purchase materials for the competition, including a lithium-ion battery, solar cells, and other items needed to complete the electric vehicle. To raise funds, students are requesting $500 – $3,000 sponsorships from Detroit area businesses.

**If you know of anyone who might be interested in sponsoring this talented group of Detroit junior high and high school students, please contact Anika Smith, executive director at Heroes Alliance, at!**

This program was sponsored by the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) and NextEnergy to foster the growth of young talent and enable hands-on experience in STEM related fields.

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