Electric Dreams by Caroline Kettlewell
One Unlikely Team of Kids and the Race to Build the Car of the Future

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When Berkeley graduate Eric Ryan was sent by Teach for America to a hardscrabble high school in the heart of North Carolina's NASCAR country, he didn't count on Harold Miller — a big guy with a big laugh and a tarheel accent as thick as sorghum syrup — sticking his head into his class one morning and announcing, "Hey Mr. Ryan, we're gonna build an electric car." Two regional utilities had challenged a group of elite schools throughout the South to design and build battery-powered electric vehicles to be judged during a final contest at NASCAR's Richmond International Raceway. Although Ryan's underprivileged high school was not on the list, Miller managed to squeak them in. With a Ford Escort rescued from the compacter, a few hundred pounds of scavenged golf cart batteries, a local minor league NASCAR driver as coach, and the local constabulary looking the other way as the reborn "Shocker" began careening over back roads on test runs, the kids get their pasted-together dark horse to the big contest in Richmond. Electric Dreams offers drama built on marvelous small-town characters, and a story of never-say-die invention which would make North Carolina's other pioneers, the Wright Brothers, proud.

About Caroline Kettlewell

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Caroline Kettlewell graduated from Williams College and hold a master's degree in writing from George Mason University. She and her husband live with their son in Virginia.
Published March 15, 2004 by Da Capo Press. 288 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Professional & Technical, Education & Reference. Non-fiction

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Underdogs from the start compared with much bigger, better endowed urban schools in the area, Northampton East teams with other county schools to rescue a battered Ford Escort from the local compacter and set about adapting it to an electric motor powered by golf cart batteries.

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Aided by a handful of phenomenal teachers, some uncommonly bright and determined students and a pervading regional interest in automobiles fueled by NASCAR, the county was able to outperform schools of far greater pedigree and budget.

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