Electrifying the Future of Transportation, One Vehicle at a Time

Crescent Heights Students

Climate change is one of the most important issues of our time. From the 2013 Calgary floods to the 2019 High level fires, Alberta’s ecosystems, economy, families, and communities are experiencing the devastating impacts of climate change, and the situation is only growing in scope and scale. Therefore, governments, manufacturers and consumers are on board to achieve major transformation in Canada’s energy sector by 2035, and the electrification of transportation will lead to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, potentially helping to tackle climate change.

In the near future, Canada will have a need for skilled tradespeople and professionals who are familiar with electric vehicles (EVs). To meet this demand, we’ve launched the pilot phase of the EV conversion and charging station installation program called “Re-Energy: Electrifying the Future of Transportation” to prepare the students of today for the energy careers of tomorrow.

We’re piloting this project in Alberta with the aim to expand nationally, engaging youth in leading the transition to a clean energy future through awareness and adoption of zero emission vehicles and related infrastructure. “Re-Energy: Electrifying the Future of Transportation” is a hands-on educational program focused on increasing awareness about the zero-emission vehicle, energy storage and charging industries amongst Canadian youth.

In February 2022, GreenLearning received a contribution from Natural Resources Canada’s Zero-Emission Vehicle Awareness Initiative, in support of the Re-Energy: Electrifying the Future of Transportation project. We also received a contribution from RBC Foundation through RBC Tech for Nature.

EV Launch
Crescent Heights students, staff and "Electrifying the Future" partners at the launch event.

About the Project

“Electrifying the Future” is truly the bridge between current automotive programs and the future of what is needed in automotive classes. Because the current curriculum focuses on training for internal combustion engines (ICE), teachers are required to meet this competency while juggling electric vehicle education to help prepare students for the future of the automotive industry. “Electrifying the Future” bridges this gap by providing modules that meet current curriculum expectations and include EVs and EV infrastructure—namely, through a hands-on electric vehicle conversion of an ICE car. The focus on infrastructure brings in an additional community component: this project will involve the installation of charging stations to the high school and therefore the surrounding community, and will involve a public showcase upon completion.

We are teaming up with the talented teachers and students at Crescent Heights High School (CHHS) in Calgary, Alberta to convert a gas-powered 1975 Volkswagen Beetle into an electric vehicle and install charging stations at the school! Over the course of the project, both secondary and post- secondary youth will work together to learn about internal combustion engines and zero emission vehicles. With the help and expertise of our collaborators at ChargePoint, SAIT, Relectric, ZENO and High Voltage Garage, we plan to scale this program nationally in order to revolutionize automotive classes across Canada! By the end of the project, we’ll have free modules, simulators and educational guides accessible on our website.

Crescent Heights automotive teachers and CH's assistant vice principal
Crescent Heights automotive teachers and CH's assistant vice principal with the 1975 VW beetle.

In the meantime, we’ll document the process (photos, video, etc). Starting with the project’s launch: GreenLearning and all of our project collaborators came together on Tuesday April 12, 2022 at Crescent Heights High School to celebrate the project. Between GreenLearning and project partner staff, as well as CHHS teachers and automotive students, 50 people attended the project presentation—representatives from our funder Natural Resources Canada and partner's at the Career and Technology Centre (working on the body of the vehicle and its paint job) also joined via Zoom! After the formal presentation portion of the event wrapped, attendees got to have a look at ZENO’s Tesla, and High Voltage Garage’s converted Ford Ranger and ask questions.

CHHS is particularly excited to be involved in the pilot stage: “As a school that is focused on climate learning and action, we are excited to be exploring the ways in which innovative science and technology could be used to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and power Canada’s clean transportation sector. GreenLearning’s innovative program has provided the students from our automotive class and other classes an opportunity to apply and showcase their skills,” says Tim Kitchen, Assistant Principal.

We at GreenLearning are so excited to be finally launching this project, not only for its cutting edge and ambitious mission, but also for its potential to be linked to EcoSchools, as well as its intersectional approach; CHHS design, robotics, science and math students are all involved in the EV conversion, as well as students from the Career and Technology Centre for the car paint and body work. And, of course, we’re partnered with fantastic organizations that will help engage the surrounding community!

To start outreach, we’re hosting a logo vote: CHHS design students have created Crescent Charged logos as part of a contest to choose the design associated with the project—this logo will also be on the converted car! Teachers and staff at CHHS narrowed the designs down to the top three, but now we need help choosing a winner! Head over to our instagram account to cast your vote (ends on May 31, 2022 at 11:59pm PST).

You can find more information regarding the Electrifying the Future project here. Or, look for us at Calgary’s Electric Vehicle Festival and SkyFire’s Summer Solstice Party!

2023 Project Update!

It has been a very busy year for students at both Crescent Heights High School and the Career and Technology Centre...

Congratulations to all students in Mr. Mo’s Intermediate - Advanced Design class who created logos for our VW Beetle! Students voted for their top three which were then highlighted in an Instagram post for students and the general public to comment on their favorite. We were so excited to celebrate the buzz around this contest that we even popped into the school to do an in-person Instagram Live logo unveiling with the students. Kudos to the very talented winner of the logo design contest! We can’t wait to feature the logo below on our VW Bug!

Students at Crescent Heights created an EV Club which is run by automotive teacher, Cody Price. Every week, 12 students ranging from grades 10-12 get together to work exclusively on the conversion of our 1975 Volkswagen Beetle. They have been working diligently to ensure the Beetle is fully converted by the end of the school year! The talented students at the Career and Technology Centre took on the very exciting and laborous task of fully restoring the Beetle (which sat in a farmers field for 10 years) and fully completed the paint job!

Winning design for the Crescent Charged logo.
Fully converted 1975 Volkswagen Beetle EV with a fresh paint job.

Thanks to our project partners at ZENO Renewables and ChargePoint, GreenLearning has purchased a level 2 dual port charging station for the school. We officially broke ground last fall for the running of conduit and copper and continue to schedule site visits and plan meetings with our partners. We plan to have the charging station fully installed by the end of the summer, just in time for the new school year!

We have been a part of numerous exciting outreach events over the past year! These included:

  • A trip to ENMAX Power Corporation’s South Service Centre in Calgary to learn how they are working to advance their mobile fleet. They are the first utility in Canada to pilot medium duty electric vehicles and we had a behind the scenes look.

  • Charged Up -Calgary's Electric Vehicle Festival is a family fun event that showcases the many benefits of EV’s and hybrid models featured by local owners and experts. We enjoyed speaking to locals about the electrification of transportation and our project.

  • We attended SkyFire Energy’s annual Summer Solstice party where we had an opportunity to view an EV Showcase for members of the Electric Vehicle Association of Alberta (EVAA) and Tesla Owners Club of Alberta (TOCA) and presentations from industry experts.

  • We were honored to give a presentation to students about the myths and facts of EV’s and be joined by EV Club students from Crescent Heights to give a presentation on our project at the 10Peaks Student Conference. This was a student facing conference to inspire and educate youth to embrace innovation and learn about technology, energy, entrepreneurship and the environment.

  • The Take Me Outside 2023 Outdoor Learning Conference, an opportunity for educators from across the country to gather and learn about climate change and environmental education, Indigenous knowledge and perspectives, and health and well-being. Our staff hosted a workshop using circles and cycles in nature to connect to potential solutions to climate change. This provided a great opportunity to discuss the conversion project, demonstrating how the re-use of something like the old VW Bug can have a large impact.

  • GreenLearning was invited to attend and showcase the project at SAIT’s Transportation and Manufacturing Industry Night. This was a fantastic opportunity to speak with post-secondary students, SAIT employees, industry professionals, and the general public on the growing interest and importance of EVs.

  • The Beetle was showcased at the 56th annual Calgary World of Wheels where there were 41,249 attendees! We had a booth to showcase the Beetle to the general public about the project. Students from both Crescent Heights and the Career and Technology Centre who have worked directly on the vehicle stopped by to share their excitement and experience.

  • We were invited to join SAIT in a Podcast called Go-To Grandma where we discussed the decarbonization of transportation and benefits to electric vehicles.

  • We were a part of Healthy Environments for Learning Day (HELD)’s 2023 Electric School Bus Campaign. Check out our video appearance here: Driving Change: The electric school bus, a tool for hopeful climate action

  • Inside Education’s Navigate & Generate Youth Energy, Water and Climate Leadership Summit 2023. We hosted a workshop all about Electric Vehicles, and shared the conversion project with 26 participants. We were excited to see our partners from UCalgary’s Relectric Car Team there too!

You can find our new Electrifying the Future program materials associated live on our website here! From this project we created a Guide which outlines all of our learnings and experiences, a motor controller simulator that allows learners to explore how the various components of an EV are wired together and what roles they play in making an EV move, and a link to a SAIT student’s capstone presentation on electric motors.

This pilot project would not be made possible without our amazing project partners at the Career and Technology Centre, SAIT, ZENO Renewables, ChargePoint, Relectric and High Voltage Garage! Your wealth of knowledge and continued support greatly contributes to the success of this project.

Any questions? Email us at: [email protected].

Topics: Environmental Education, Energy, Electric Vehicle, Programs, Climate Change

Back to Blog