Can an innovative, team-based, hands-on design and construction project involving high school students change their attitudes and personal preferences for transportation to favor lower impact modes? This was the main question PSTAT (Promoting Sustainable Transportation Among Teens) sought to answer. Since the last decade, global climate change has fuelled increased development of alternative transportation modes that have lesser impact on the environment. However, society is not embracing the change with open arms. Therefore, there is a critical need for a paradigm shift, which could be especially timely for teen-aged students starting to adopt their own personal transportation preferences. By exposing high school students to a hands-on activity that introduced them to alternative transportation, it was hoped to provide a partially social solution to what is currently viewed as a primarily technical problem – the overwhelming dependence of the United States’ personal transportation system on petroleum. PSTAT involved three teams of high school students each having University of Tennessee, Knoxville undergraduate engineering students mentors. Each team designed and constructed an e-bike for a competition of the e-bikes’ performance. Sustainability analyses detailing the environmental, human health and economic impacts of three different commuting scenarios were also conducted by the teams. The sustainability analyses quantitatively displayed the impacts of various commuting choices, emphasizing the impacts of the current transportation situation and more importantly the benefits of lower impact transportation modes. Pre-and post-project surveys were conducted to measure the change in students’ perception and likelihood of adopting lower impact transportation modes in the future.
Bryner, Jordan; Chin, Yi Ying; Patton, Candice; Patton, Rebekah; Stanfill, Christopher; Wheeler, Rick; Clark, Jeffrey Keith II; Frymier, Paul; Cherry, Chris; Irick, David; and Tolbert, Leon. (2013). PSTAT: Promoting Sustainable Transportation Among Teens. Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Publications and Other Works. http://trace.tennessee.edu/utk_chembiopubs/95