Browns Plains Students Drive Logan into Sustainable Future

Browns Plains Students Drive Logan into Sustainable Future

Ever wondered whether making Logan’s buses electric would save carbon emissions and money? STEM students from Browns Plains State High School have put it to the test using a 3D miniature model of the region and small self driving vehicles. 

Grade 8, 9 and 10 students from the school’s stem class that unites science, maths and technology to tackle real world problems, have been busy innovating ways to affordably reduce Logan’s bus fleet’s large carbon output, and the results may surprise you. 

Stem teacher Martin Simons says around 40 students were part of the class which occurred once a week until the investigation headed by students Bevin Pillay and Luke Joyce was finished. 

“The majority of the focus was how much carbon we could save if we took Logan buses and made them electric and how much it would cost to actually do that,” Mr Simons said. 

“They found enough information to estimate how much energy all the Logan buses use in a year and how much it would cost to put photovoltaic cells on the roofs to actually power those buses for a year.

“We tried to cost that all out and see whether it was possible and the maths even suggests it is very reasonable.” 

According to the calculations of their study, switching to electric buses could eliminate ​​140 tons of CO2 that Logan’s buses emit into the atmosphere every year, and save a total of $150,000 in costs compared to gas powered buses. 

Mr Simons says another part of this study was to include driverless vehicles, thus the creation of the miniature model of the suburb which hosted autonomous robots coded by the students themselves. 

“We wanted to highlight how this would work especially with autonomous vehicles, so they made a little streetscape,” Mr Simons said. 

“They used computers to design the little buildings, the houses and the schools which they then programmed into a laser cutter to cut the timber. 

“Then they put all their little buildings together to make a streetscape with a white line down the middle which was a sensor,  and programmed the little vehicles to follow the line down the sensor.” 

laser cutter 2
The laser cutter used to make miniature buildings for their model

model of the town

Mr Simons says the incorporation of driverless vehicles was relevant to the study as he believes that’s where the future of transport and technology is headed. 

“We looked at autonomous buses as a modern aspect because things seem to be heading that way,” Mr Simons said. 

“One day buses will pick you up and there won’t be a driver, and they will be a bit more carbon neutral. 

“That technology is already here; Tesla is a good example; they already use a lot of that technology.” 

Mr Simons says the model was an innovative and helpful way to visualise and tackle the problem.

“It was just about showing them in a practical way using maths, that there are ways to get big chunks of carbon out of the atmosphere,” he said. 

“It got them across the issues in a nice hands-on way where they could see what’s happening and then imagine it on a larger scale. 

“Most of our problems; if we imagine on a larger scale, we can solve them.” 

The problem at hand being the Logan bus fleet’s large carbon emissions which if reduced would make a small but meaningful difference to tackling climate change. 

“Logan buses put a fair chunk of carbon into the atmosphere and they have for the last 50 years but this might be an opportunity to stop that amount of carbon going into the air,”  Mr Simons said. 

“It’s their generation that’s going to have to make up for our mistakes but also the developmental cost in the sense that it puts an enormous amount of carbon in the atmosphere.

“It’s going to be their generation that has to deal with that and turn it around, and unless they understand the issues, and are prepared, we are all sunk, so to speak.” 

To see a video of the self-driving cars in action visit; https://www.facebook.com/watch/?ref=saved&v=484099449950383.