High School(spring 2015) & Elementary School(fall 2015) STEM Talk on Model S

High School(spring 2015) & Elementary School(fall 2015) STEM Talk on Model S

I volunteered to talk about the MS at the high school where I graduated. Besides a sense of pride in being an owner, the high school is located in the electron desert of northeast Pennsylvania and I figured it could be a neat experience for the kids. The high school has a large foreign student population as well, especially from Asia, so that made the offer even more interesting for me. We now live in northern VA, by the way.

What I initially imagined as a one class hour-long interaction with the kids has now taken on a life of its own. I was given the name of the freshman STEM science professor as a contact and she said the topic fit well in the freshman curriculum. She then told me that the STEM class actually consisted of five periods with about twenty kids in each period. So my immediate thought was “In for a penny, in for a pound” and I might as well make a day out of the experience.

I figure most of the fun they’ll get from the experience will be seeing the car and exploring the inside, but I’ve also put together info on safety, software, all wheel drive, autopilot and the battery. We’ve agreed on a structure where about half the time in each class is for me to talk and answer general questions while the other half is spent with the car on Q&A.

So for the newest complication, the professor told me that they are going to tell the whole school about the visit and let anyone with a free period during the day attend the classes. I’m considering suggesting to her that they also ought to let the local news outlets know and maybe they’ll send a reporter or a camera crew. Then maybe I’ll have a drive/ride sign-up sheet for anyone interested after-school; I suspect there will be a few adults in the classes that get curious. :)

I admit, a big piece of me that wonders if I’m in over my head. But I’ve had the car for over a year and really enjoy it as well as the forums so I think I’m reasonably prepared. I am quietly hoping that this could generate some positive PR for EV’s and charging infrastructure because if any area of the country needs it, northeast PA does.

Oh, and I met someone from Tesla Marketing at the Tysons Corners VA opening this weekend and they are going to send me Tesla stickers for the class. That was very nice of them to help me out.

The presentation is in early April, so if you would like to express any support, sympathy or mockery at my sheer lunacy now is your opportunity.


Links for media coverage from the event.


Bluesday Afternoon | 10/03/2015

Very cool!! I know they will enjoy the lessons/experience you will provide. The students are quite lucky to see and learn about your car. and how it continues to improve.Also, be sure to show them 007!

Bluesday Afternoon | 10/03/2015

Could you ask them to fix my punctuation ;-)

Bighorn | 10/03/2015

Can we audit your course?

PhillyGal | 10/03/2015

This is awesome for so many reasons.

As you may recall, my husband is from NEPA. It definitely is an electron desert (Allentown Super Charger, please...)

Also, this is the future. Today's high school kids may very well make or break the future of EVs. We don't get recognized much in our immediate neighborhood either but one high school age boy did take a cell phone video of us as we drove by recently.

I admire your willingness to share something so beautiful with young people. When I was in grade school a solar power car came to visit us. Me having always loved cars (or, maybe as a result of this visit?) was definitely in love and here I am, 20 years later, owning a Tesla that will hopefully be technically solar powered by May or June.

Good luck and please tell us how it goes. If you have a way to publish a simple blog about your experience with pictures, please do.

NKYTA | 10/03/2015

+a lot

You, sir, are a Full Dollar Bill!

I get more comments from sub-20-yr-olds than even medium old geezers that drive this dream (of which I am).

I just want to be called 'dawg' at somepoint. Sounds like you've got a shot!

I'm guessing cup holders won't come up, but smudges on the headliner is probably a draw. ;-). You know, aside from the insane torque and efficiency.

Have fun and show them your capital G Grin! :-)

Bighorn | 10/03/2015

The O.G.--original grin

renwo S alset | 10/03/2015

1/2 $ +100

mbirnie51 | 10/03/2015

@ Half Dollar Bill: ++1 There is no better feeling in the world than to stand in front of young, eager minds and fill them with that little bit of intrigue on a subject that will motivate them into a greater learning experience. Get ready for some off-the-wall questions. I teach EVITP classes to older journeymen wiremen and the electric car concept stimulates may questions...good luck

Madatgascar | 10/03/2015

Be sure to pinch some slides from the Tesla cartoon primer at!

Half Dollar Bill | 11/03/2015

All - I appreciate the support. Many heart-felt thanks!

@thegooners - Didn't think about the 007 easter egg. Bet they'd think that is cool. Thanks!

@Bighorn - How much would I have to pay for the honor? I'm sure I'll have a sticker or two left over :)

@PhillyGal - Been thinking about how I can capture the event without sacrificing my participation. Considering setting up a gopro to take pix every couple minutes.

@NKYTA - Hoping it's a warm day with no rain and I can just open up the windows and pano. I know the touchscreen's going to get dirty but that's just a quick wipe-down. Have any insight on where I can get a supply of white gloves :)

@tbouquet - That's really funny. I got in on the Kickstarter Exploding Kittens campaign and didn't make the connection that the artist had a website. I really like the way he thinks and look forward to exploring the website, especially the Tesla thread.

cpmarino | 11/03/2015

Great idea and I applaud not only your enthusiasm, but actually going out and making something happen. Kids today are spoiled by technology without fully understanding what it means (dear god, that makes me sound old). Any effort to impart wisdom and knowledge on our youth is commendable.

Just based on your enthusiasm alone, I'm sure they'll walk away with a better understanding and appreciation. Give them a test ride and you'll help foster a future generation of Tesla/EV fanatics!

Sam_S | 11/03/2015

Very cool.

Perhaps you'll inspire one of these kids to become a battery engineer, automotive application engineer, or at least to apply themselves in school so they can afford a Model S someday.

nickjhowe | 11/03/2015

Hey Bill, If you send me an email at nickjhowe at gmail I can send you the deck I used for my presentation at a school. Not sure if it will help, but you are welcome to it if you want it.

Thanks to @PBEndo for pointing me at this thread.

bonaire | 11/03/2015

Will you speak about the whole EV landscape (from hybrids to PiHV and BEV)?

Also, will you describe the variation in charging infrastructures (Tesla, CHAdeMO, J-1772, 120V wall plug, 240V wall plug)?

They may want to know what kind of EV they can afford when they are a little older and cars like used Leafs and Volts and so on could be in their near future.

Just think, though, of all the kids in schools learning about "green" choices and all that but rarely get too much involved unless they have personal payback. A high-schooler rarely believes they going to change the world and make a difference. But they do like "cool" cars so the talk-day sounds pretty interesting.

Best thing about talking to kids is they don't have the political "experience" older people do (meaning mind-programming by their favorite networks). They tend to be more open to subjects.

Remember to talk about peak oil and perhaps when the kids grow up and have their own kids, the oil may be running out or be priced higher than they can afford - so if they choose to raise a family, one way to afford to drive "at all" may be with EVs. That is an assumption, though, and the counterpoint is also that EVs, and other plug-ins along with hybrids and ICE efficiencies will help reduce the demand for oil so much that it still stays cheap - the supply/demand stuff. Which they can learn more about in economics class.

jordanrichard | 11/03/2015

I too applaud what you are doing. Kids already think everything their parents have is "old fashion", this will cement it. Also, by the time they are out of college, Tesla will have model 4 out.

My only concern is the number of scratches your car will get.

I attended the ribbon cutting ceremony for 2 new Level 2 charging stations at a local community college. Naturally my MS along with 3 others in attendance got some attention. A few asked to sit in the car which I was happy to allow, but with the caveat that they had nothing in their back pockets that might damage or worse, poke a hole in the leather.

Are you going to offer quick "blasts" in the school parking lot?

Pollux | 11/03/2015

You might want to show a clip of a Tesla (maybe the P85D) out-accelerating fancy cars, like Lamborghini. And a clip of a drag race, e.g., versus a Dodge Hellcat.

There are some really good clips of people getting test rides in the P85D -- their reactions are hilarious.

Maybe a piece of one of the Tesla factory clips, showing the robots in action.

If you have the rear jump seats, be sure to fill up the car with 7 students (you'll need two small ones for the jump seats).


Mystery Lab | 11/03/2015

Very neat project. It's usually a good sign when you feel a little bit over your head.

Push that envelop!

s.grot | 11/03/2015

Just did a show and tell for a local PA newspaper. Let the reporter do the asking of questions easily filled up an hour of dialog . You have to guide then to the right questions since they don't know the real advantages

Half Dollar Bill | 11/03/2015

@nickjhowe - email on its way I'll happily see if I can incorporate any of your material. Further got me thinking that it might be nice if there was some kind of repository for stuff like this that others can reference.

@bonaire - The professor was thinking about including other hybrids but changed her mind and wants to focus on the MS. I planned to cover all the charging options and pull up the global supercharger map and maybe even the Plugshare app.

@jordanrichard - hadn't thought about sharp objects yet. Thanks. I don't know what a parent's reaction would be if their kid got in a car with a stranger so I'm going to have to play the test-ride thing by ear. I may have to enlist teachers as chaperones, though I also suspect they will be the most interested in the drives.

@Pollux - Honestly, I want to downplay the speed/acceleration thing. I know it'll come up, but since I ALWAYS obey traffic laws, I would have no first-hand experience with the upper limits of the MS performance ;) Maybe we'll have some fun if we get to test-rides.

@s.grot - I had a similar thought about guiding to the right kind of question.

Red Sage ca us | 11/03/2015

Remember, there's nothing wrong with a low speed demonstration either... There is a difference that is palpable. Have a great time!

Bluesday Afternoon | 11/03/2015

@Half Dollar Bill (by the way, that's a great name!) As a possible homework/activity assignment (yikes), have them put together a multi-state trip on EV Trip Planner so they can clearly see how EV's can accomplish complicated travel and the science of variables on EV energy use.

It could be a group activity with discussions about what impacts range, understanding "range anxiety" today and projecting into the future as additional charging stations/locations expand. The kicker is seeing how far they can travel using $0 fuel costs.

Additionally, I would avoid any transporting of students in your car. The school probably wouldn't permit it anyway. It's not worth it. The liability quotient is off the charts. I've been in education over 40 years and it's something school districts restrict or deny. In California, you should see the hoops we have to go through just for supervised field trips...sad!

As you can see by the supportive responses, you've really hit on a great idea. I also applaud the teacher! Enjoy!!

Brian H | 12/03/2015

Mention casually that lots more capabilities are in the works, and you have only vague clues from Tesla what they will be. Use the "delivery day is the worst the car will ever be" line.

garygid | 12/03/2015

Suggest to the STEM teacher that some students might want to get
organized and capture video of the whole happening, and then edit the
resulting 20 or 40 hours of material down to 5 or 10 "subjects" of
perhaps 20 or 30 minutes each.

I agree, no rides, liability for the school is too much to handle,
not to mention for you personally.

Invite other Tesla owners to bring their cars to be part of
the static exhibit, even if nobody is allowed inside thise cars.
Get the school's approval, of course.

Instead of giving the same lecture 5 times to small groups,
they might want to use some assembly or stage auditorium,
with the car(s) inside, to allow more to attend, assuming
they have substantial interest and can accommodate the
required schedule variation.

Good work!

When I can get some materials prepared, I hope
to be able to do something similar here. I might try to find
an interested teacher, and suggest student projects to prepare
"science fair" exhibits on the 10-ish EV-related subjects.

I have suggested to the Tesla Store a series of educational
events for interested folks, and they said that they are
already doing an event almost every month. I need to
go see what they cover.

Cherrs, Gary

1. Green Electrons
2. A fuel tank
3. Range to Go
4. Fuel to Go
5. Evolving Vehicle Manufacturing
6. Vehicle Learns over the Air
7. Red Carpet Service
8. Navigation Estimation
9. Back and Forth
10. Autopilot Features
11. Tire Noise, RR, and issues
12. Air Resistance, Speed, Altitude
13. Going Up and Down
14. What Spare Tire
15. Roadside Help and Service
16. Wiring for Charging
17. Spreading the Word
18. Air Suspension
19. More Power and Speed
20. Dual Axle Drive
21. Frunk and Trunk
22. Towing issues
23. Preflight Planning, and Plan B
24. Traffic Aware Cruise Control
25. Lane Awareness
26. Speed Limit Sign Recognition
27. Design Your Car
28. The Ordering Experience
29. The Waiting Period
30. The Delivery Event
31. Go Slowly, Learn Safety
32. Speed Kills
33. How Fast is Fast Enough

Bighorn | 12/03/2015

Tell them they can get their papers proofread and have spelling and grammar corrected at the Tesla forum.

dborn | 12/03/2015

Bighorn- you volunteering Brian H's services?

Half Dollar Bill | 12/03/2015

I acknowledge/blame Bighorn for this little piece of inspiration.

Extra credit test for the kids.
Identify and define the following Model S features:
1) Goose petal
2) Regenerative break
3) Crew's control stock

Half Dollar Bill | 03/04/2015

Presentation in one week.
I'm on campus all day; besides the multiple STEM classes, there are a few other science classes joining the fun.
I've got my talking points all set and I've got a way to use a projector to mirror an ipad screen during the classroom time which will give me the flexibility of being among the students while controlling the presentation.
The good news is that I basically get to park in the center of campus all day so I'm hoping there are plenty of casual conversations. Well over 100 students in the captive audiences, though.
Just hoping that the weather cooperates and the hands-on time isn't forced indoors due to rain; Evey's looking forward to getting some air with the top down and the windows open :)

NKYTA | 03/04/2015

:-) good stuff!

Blu Zap | 03/04/2015

+1 1/2 $1

Captain_Zap | 03/04/2015

What a thrill!

Grinnin'.VA | 04/04/2015


I live in Fairfax, VA.
Seriously, is there any way I could bring my 85D and assist you?

Go Tesla!

Bighorn | 04/04/2015

Please don't take Grinnin'--I can't imagine it not being traumatic.

Half Dollar Bill | 04/04/2015

Let me get this straight, you want to give me your D to use for the presentations? That's really nice:)

Seriously too, there's some logistics to figure out and I'd need to clear you with the school. There are a few double classes during a period so another car would make it easier for 40 students during hands on time.

It's an intriguing offer and if you want me to chase it then email me at billandmaryann02@gmail with your phone and good times to call to discuss. I'm In Loudoun, by the way.

Bighorn - traumatic for me or the students?

Bighorn | 04/04/2015


Dwatson102 | 05/04/2015

I'm doing a similar thing for automotive day at a local community college in May. Who needs advertising when you have a superior product and happy, dedicated customers.

Half Dollar Bill | 10/04/2015

Oh boy. Oh boy. OH BOY!
I have to make the time tomorrow to post a summary with pix that does the event justice but it's not going to happen right now after a whole day at the school.

I was joined by BOTH Grinnin'and DavidB from the Tesla forum. DavidB was literally a last minute addition, having bumped into Grinnin' at the Hagerstown supercharger on his way to PA and learning of the event. Both were welcome additions not only for sharing their cars, which helped greatly because some of the classes had 30-40 students, but also for sharing their experiences and expertise.

We got local TV coverage from both WNEP and WBRE but I haven't found their video segments online yet. I expect print media coverage in Saturday's Citizen's Voice and Times Leader papers and I'll post those links when available as well.

The students were very receptive. Some of them did their homework and came very prepared with good questions about the car. Most just liked being able to fiddle with the touchscreen. I talked to one student from Spain that was excited her country is getting superchargers and another student from Hong Kong that was happy to see the cars up close.

I was already asked if I'd be interested in doing it again. I replied that I'll be at the Reach the Beach event next weekend but I'm open the weekend after that:)

We had a great time and I heartily thank both gentlemen for their contribution. Maybe we need some representation from the opposite sex the next time around? Just sayin'. More to come.

Half Dollar Bill | 11/04/2015

I've added media links to the first post.

Bluesday Afternoon | 11/04/2015

Bill, thanks for the update on the news releases. Wide range coverage but far more important is the impression left on the students and staff. It's too bad the reporters couldn't have been involved in the classroom lessons! They might have learned substantially more.

It must be very gratifying for you and "your team" to know the students and teacher learned about Tesla's success in building a much better car! One that is absolutely doable and helps the environment.


jman | 11/04/2015

Job well done !!!! I am a teacher and events like this will help push the direction of electric cars and sustainable energy !!!

PhillyGal | 11/04/2015

I'm glad you enjoyed it!
I just texted my father-in-law and asked him to save today's paper for me. I can't wait to see your full write up.

DLebryk | 12/04/2015

Congratulations Bill - job so well done. You sounded great on camera. Loved the clips.

There was a message the boys remembered a little too well. 3.2 seconds!

Half Dollar Bill | 13/04/2015

You’ll have to pardon me for retracing a bit but it’s important to the summary.

So my original intent was to volunteer my time for the day to discuss the car and EV technology with the STEM classes. However about a week before the event Grinnin’ got in touch and asked to participate. I didn’t count on the offer but realized that two cars are better than one so I contacted the school for permission to add him and they happily agreed. This would be Grinnin’s first long distance trip in his new D and he didn’t want to make the direct trip to northeast PA from VA so on his way up he decided to stop at Hagerstown. That’s where he bumped into DavidB. They got to talking and upon realizing that he had no immediate plans, DavidB decided to give me a call to inquire about joining the fun. I didn’t know if I could get him added at the last minute but the school was agreeable and we made arrangements to all meet the next morning.

We all pretty much arrived at the same time on campus the next day and DavidB sought an outdoor outlet since he didn’t get a chance to charge completely upon getting into town. We combined extension cords and played around with a few plugs until getting one to work. By the time we checked out the room for the indoor sessions and reviewed the day’s schedule with our hosts the students began to arrive for the first class of the day. We would be presenting to five classes during the day, with two classes containing 30 to 40 students each and the remainder containing about 15-20 each. We would try to keep the indoor sessions to about 20 minutes and allow the students another 20 minutes outside to explore the cars and discuss features with each owner. During time without classes we were either conducting interviews with media or discussing the cars with other students that happened by with a free period. By the time the afternoon rolled around I realized that I hadn’t taken any pictures, completely missing my opportunity in the morning to set up the GoPro in time lapse mode. I snapped a few in the afternoon but I’m hoping to get ahold of the school’s Media department shots.

The indoor sessions consisted of short personal intros, discussions about charging and superchargers, discussions about the car’s software and general questions. The school has a healthy population of Asian and European students and their interest in the car and technology was especially gratifying. There were multiple questions about battery degradation and the car’s speed. There was one lad that asked about the feasibility of putting a supercharger in your home which led to an extended discussion about how fast you really need to charge at home. Another student asked me when a pick-up truck model was coming out (volunteer firefighter and scuba diver, by the way, so lots of gear. Props to her!) When we got to discussing long distance travel, the students seemed impressed with DavidB’s experiences up and down the east coast, Grinnin’s planned trip to Phoenix and back and my planned DC-Seattle-San Diego-DC excursion. My apologies if the summary seems one-sided as the three of us did not have an opportunity to debrief after the event, so hopefully Grinnin’ or DavidB can add their experiences.

I was excited to show off the car’s hidden features but very few students got the Spinal Tap volume reference. It made me a bit sad to realize that I’m old enough to be in on the joke; at the same time I’m hopeful that they’ll eventually get around to viewing and loving the movie. They did like the submarine and Jules Verne reference.

The group dynamic with Grinnin’ and DavidB worked out really well as we brought different backgrounds and perspectives to the conversation. I’m personally grateful for their participation as it made car demos much easier and really showed off some of the diversity in the owner community. It only occurred to me now that there’s no way I would have thought about doing this with another vehicle. While I didn’t use all the material I prepped, I didn’t feel like it was wasted time either. Who else owns a car that makes them smarter?

If there is another opportunity, I’m kicking around the idea of combining it with a larger sociability run. The northeast/north central piece of the state really needs a supercharger to help support that concept, though. But I believe fun was had by all and hopefully there will be a chance to do it again. I thank those of you that supplied suggestions or material for the day’s effort.

Half Dollar Bill | 12/10/2015

Resurrecting the old one instead of starting a new one.
We're doing it again. This time at the elementary school associated with the high school. We're doing grades 1-8. 1-4 on Friday 10/30 and 5-8 on Friday 11/6. Around 300 children in total across all grades.
I've already got one volunteer from our high school outing signed up to assist again and I'm querying to see if any other owners would like to assist. The class periods are about 40 minutes long and we're planning about a 15-20 minute talk about the car followed by the remainder outside at the cars. I've got a Powerpoint deck - the focus is more on science and programming than on the car, but we're using it to illustrate those points.
The location is unfortunately in the supercharging desert of northeast PA, Wilkes-Barre specifically. The event is going to last the entire school day, so if you're interested you'd probably want to consider a Thursday night stay.
Please PM me at TMC if you're interested or you want more info. Or reply here and we'll figure out how to connect.
Thanks kindly.

SbMD | 12/10/2015

Just seeing this thread for the first time, @HalfDollarBill. Really great that you did this and are going to continue!

Bighorn | 12/10/2015

Grinnin would terrify this age group.

Half Dollar Bill | 01/12/2015

One more update. I think the "thank you cards" were a nice touch.

We got some media coverage.

This is the link for the pictures that the school’s PR staff took.

And here a link to thank you cards that some of the 2nd or 3rd grade students produced.

Presentations were given over two days as over 300 students in the school participated. Thanks to the two other MS owners that supported the event.

We had many great questions from the students, proving you're never too young to start thinking about the future. The school's science staff was also very helpful and asked a fair amount of questions on their own.

I'm finding that the more I do these presentations, the more fun it becomes. The up-front planning can get a bit challenging, but the end result are a real kick in the pants. If you're even remotely interested and have school-aged children, try reaching out to their teachers to see if they're receptive. I'm happy to share any of the material I've developed to date, though honestly, most of it is in your head as owners already.

Tropopause | 01/12/2015

These kids will grow up to ride in fully autonomous cars! I saw a "want-ad" tweet from Elon looking for autopilot engineers to achieve fully autonomous Tesla's in three years!

Half Dollar Bill, great way to inspire the young ones.

cquail | 02/12/2015

Way to go Half Dollar Bill. Great exposure for these kids.

Half Dollar Bill | 02/12/2015


jordanrichard | 02/12/2015

Half Dollar Bill, were you at all concerned about the car getting scratched and dinged up?