An old-school Volkswagen Karmann Ghia is a beauty, but there's nothing old about the engineers-in-training who rebuilt it into an electric car.
"And it runs really nice," Cornel Foster, a Minddrive student, said.
They have made it cruise like it never could back in 1967. What drives the car is far from traditional energy. It's actually run on social fuel. It starts with a tweet. The tweet sends a signal into a little box in the car that lets it know that it has social fuel and can start running.
"Social media being used to power a car that they built is just so perfect," Linda Buchner, the president of Minddrive, said.
Every tweet, Facebook like and Instagram share and follow gets routed through a server. If the vehicle doesn't have enough social media buzz, a little black box cuts power to the electric engine.
"It's designed so that when we stop for charging, if we don't have enough social fuel, the car won't start again, but it's not going to leave us stranded on the side of the highway with a bunch of teenagers," Buchner said.
Kids and mentors from the Minddrive program are preparing to drive their creation from Kansas City to Washington, DC, to lobby lawmakers for more hands-on education. The Social Fuel Tour will make stops in several cities; Springfield, IL, Indianapolis, IN, Akron, OH, and Pittsburgh, PA, as they make their way to our nation's capital.
"I got to move around, do stuff, so I wasn't sitting at a desk for an hour, having a teacher just go up here and show you. We actually got to get our hands dirty," Foster said.
Minddrive started as an after school program working on cars at one high school.
"We're just a bunch of high school students from Kansas City, MO," Kelvin Duley, a Minddrive student mentor, said.
It quickly grew to draw in kids from several inner-city schools as many saw success through the "learning from experience" motto.
"We're trying to provide a hook, a way to ignite their interest that they each have inside of them," Buchner said.
And students said it offered them a new outlook on their future.
"It gave me some motivation, I would think. I had a set goal of being a professional athlete at first, not really caring about honestly my degree or anything like that, but I guess this car has changed my perspective about how much a degree or education matters," Duley said.
After much hard work, everyone said they're excited to take their message on the road as they count on everyone's tweets, likes and shares to get them there and beyond.
Twenty students will participate in the tour and there will be stops made at technology centers, college campuses and at environmental projects such as a wind farm.
The kids take off next Friday for Washington, DC. Using the hashtag #minddrive and mentioning @minddriveorg will help them out with the social media shares.
Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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