Lee Cabe – Let's not only design a Solar-Powered Car ... but race it!
I guess I owe a lot to Lee, and my friend Spencer Jourdain, for introducing me to Lee.
At the time, Spencer was trying to support a movement toward sustainability. Lee was not only having his 9th grade Physics students design solar-powered cars, but building them (sometimes in his backyard) and then taking them to the National Solar-Powered Car Race each Spring in Austin to race them.
When I met Lee and talked with his students, they had just recently returned from Australia. Turns out he was able to get Quantas to fly their car and his students to Australia to race across the outback. And his students had raised enough money, sitting in front of supermarkets, to help out.
All of this was GREAT! His students had gained a lot by not only designing but building and then racing their car ... but in my conversation with one young woman, I was disheartened.
When I asked her about what she had gained from the experience, she told me as follows.
"Well, I learned a lot of physics. But the most important thing I learned was how to work with my teammates. And to figure out a solution fast," she said. "When our car broke down half way through the race, we didn't have time to read a book or go on the web to find a solution. We had to figure out what was going on and figure out a solution quick! And that's what I learned. How to figure out what was going on and find a solution, with my teammates."
All good, except for this final word.
Personally pumped by this insight, and by the enthusiasm by which she told her story, I asked, "So how does that make you think about what else you can do?" I, of course, was hoping she would embrace what she had been able to accomplish as an insight that she could do almost anything, if she wanted. Yet, her response was as follows ....
"Well, I figure this was probably the best experience I will have in my life. And I will become an administrative assistant just like my Aunt."
Inside my mind I was screaming, "WHAT?!"
There was this disconnect. Why had Mr. Cabe not used this opportunity to tell her that if she could do this, just think what else she could do!
In the end, I think that is the greatest outcome of any of these truly exceptional experiences. If you can do THIS ... just imagine what else you can do.
Having said this ... I need to celebrate and honor what Mr. Cabe did with and for his students. He took physic out of a textbook and made it something they could use to make something cool and awesome to them.
I am forever grateful to Mr. Cabe to showing what is possible.