Weekly roundup: Student-built electric cars hit the track, governor unveils revised budget, and more

The rubber met the road last weekend for electric vehicles built and designed by 11 local high school teams competing in the Vital Link Energy Invitational.

As the Daily Pilot reported, two teams from Foothill High in the Tustin Unified School District placed first and third after four heats in a parking lot on the campus of UC Irvine. A crew from the California Academy of Math and Science placed second.

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In classes and clubs, students strive to build the most energy-efficient racers possible for the Vital Link Energy Invitational as they learn the principles of engineering, aerodynamics, physics, manufacturing and more. (Photo from Vital Link)

The gas-free roadsters were judged based on efficiency, using a formula that factored in watt-hours and the total number of seconds each car spent racing around the track.

Founded in 1995, Vital Link partners with schools and businesses to create experiential learning opportunities that help prepare students for careers in sectors such as robotics, engineering, manufacturing, healthcare, computer programming, digital media and automotive technology.

UC Irvine engineering professor Michael McCarthy is credited with creating the Energy Invitational about a dozen years ago. According to the Vital Link website, students in classes and clubs can build their racers from the ground up or modify existing vehicles using a combination of energy sources.

“As students build their operational prototype, they acquire an understanding of electrical and mechanical engineering, aerodynamics, physics, materials science, alternative fuels, statistics, algebra, CAD/3D printing, technology, and fabrication,” reads a program description.

Here are some of the other stories we’ve been following this week:

  • Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday unveiled his proposed budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1, calling for a record $128 billion in total funding for schools and community colleges. The spending plan includes a sizable increase in general funding for TK-12 through the Local Control Funding Formula, along with $4 billion for school construction and additional money for Newsom’s community schools initiative, EdSource reports. Newsom further wants to allocate $3.3 billion to ease the impacts of declining enrollment on school budgets. The Legislature has just over a month to pass a state budget with the governor’s approval.
  • Six of the best and brightest teachers in Orange County experienced disruptions in their lesson plans on Tuesday — but for a very good reason. Over the span of six hours, a caravan that included Orange County Superintendent Dr. Al Mijares, camera crews, reporters, sponsors and OCDE representatives visited six different campuses to recognize the 2023 Orange County Teachers of the Year. An Orange County Register reporter and photographer were also on hand to cover this year’s surprise announcements.
  • Classified school employees “quietly lay the foundation for quality teaching and learning,” writes Orange County Superintendent Dr. Al Mijares in his latest column for the OCDE Newsroom. Nine staff members who were recently named Orange County Classified School Employees of the Year are set to be formally celebrated during Classified School Employee Week, which starts May 15. Of that group, four have also earned honors at the state level.
  • A book vending machine at Pendleton Elementary School in the Buena Park School District is letting students take home their favorite reading material, including the latest installments from popular series like “Goosebumps,” “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” and “Clifford the Big Red Dog.”
  • Can an Orange County elected official serve in two positions at once? That’s a question the California attorney general is sending to the courts for the second time in about a month, writes the Voice of OC.
  • For the first time in the history of Los Amigos High School, which opened in 1968, its varsity baseball team has won the league championship title. The Garden Grove Unified campus completed its first winning season since 1984 with a victory over Rancho Alamitos High School in the final game of the regular season.
  • Underfunding under the state’s nearly 10-year-old funding formula continues to pose challenges for Capistrano Unified, impacting everything from music to facilities, district officials say.
  • What does California require on LGBTQ education? Can parents opt their children out of lessons on gender identity? The Los Angeles Times answers those questions and more.

This is the part where we encourage you to keep up with local education news stories by bookmarking the OCDE Newsroomsubscribing for emailed updates and following us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.