For the past couple of weeks, instead of running around playing tag or playing on playground equipment during their recess time, Hillsboro Elementary School fifth graders Chris Walker and D.J. Bartel have been tinkering.
The duo is working on a project they initiated on their own — to get an old go-kart back up and running.
The boys found the go-kart at elementary school principal Evan Yoder’s farm. It belonged to Yoder’s youngest son and had been sitting outside for 8 or 9 years.
“It was behind the shed and I took the guys out to the farm one day and they thought, ‘Wow, we could get that thing running,’” Yoder said. “They’ve done a good job trying to take it apart and figure out what’s going on with it, seeing if its salvageable or not.”
Both boys have experience working on machinery, and said their dads helped spark their interest with it.
“I’ve worked on tractors and trucks,” Christopher said.
“I’ve worked on mowers,” D.J. said, “and I’ve helped on my brother’s truck.”
While they have had some success with the go-kart, they have also had some complications.
“It had a lot of smoke coming out of it,” Christopher said.
Their goal is to get it running by the end of the school year, and the boys think it will be operating soon.
“If we put a new motor on it,” Christopher said.
Along with getting hands on with the go-kart, they also have been going online to look up manuals to learn more about go-karts and how they operate.
“They’ve had to do some research on it as to what’s wrong with it and what parts to get,” Yoder said. “They’ve been very open about it and excited about it.”
Yoder said the boys have a knack for this kind of work.
“They probably know more about engines than I do,” Yoder said. “They know what they’re doing, they just have to figure out what needs to be done and if they can get it back out on the road again.”
Yoder called this an example of project-based learning, where students are more hands on with their learning, and it’s something that he’d like to include more of at the school in the future.
“That is a direction I’d like to move in school,” Yoder said, “and this is a prime example of how enthusiastic kids can be about it.”