Bendigo Senior Secondary College has been powering along at the Energy Breakthrough this week, as they debut their first ever all female elecgtric pedal vehicle – a milestone event for the team. While they’re not the first school to do so, they are the sole team in the category this year. Undeterred by this, the school hopes to inspire more teams to join, dispelling notions of difficulty and highlighting low barriers for entry into the electric vehicle realm. And showing just how dedicated the school is to innovation, and fostering increased participation across various fields of the Energy Breakthrough. 

The team’s entry into the category was a last minute decision, but they’re confident they’re a team to talk about this weekend. The vehicle in question, ‘Gnome Unknown’, last raced in 2019 as a HPV, and recently received a makeover to integrate the required electrical components to make it compliant with the

category’s entry requirements. Team manager, Daryl, explained that this process was surprisingly cost-effective and quite straightforward, a point which he hopes will encourage other schools to join them in the category next year.

Making their electric debut this weekend is an all female team of 7, with a number of year 11 students, placing the team in a good position to return next year with an added degree of experience and confidence. 

This year’s event marks just the second year that Bendigo Senior has embraced the electric vehicle, and will race two this year, alongside a traditional HPV. 

Bendigo Senior Secondary College is no stranger to innovation nor taking everyone by surprise, in fact one year they even brought a team to Maryborough with nothing but trike parts, which was quickly put together (welding and all), from scratch before their scrutineering that same day, and even managed an impressive placing on the track. 

They have big hopes for the all female team, Known Ungnomes, and not just for their own success, but in the success of female participation in the electric/hybrid space at the Energy Breakthrough.

The school hopes to encourage more schools to get onboard with racing electric/hybrid vehicles, particularly female teams, and see more competition in the category next year. 

Although it might seem like a big change to go from pure pedal power to the electric, BSSC team manager, Daryl King, emphasised the ease of retro fitting a traditional HPV with the required equipment. Uncomplicated and inexpensive equipment can be purchased online – e-bike and e-scooter conversion kits will do the job – and the task of fitting the equipment is not overall difficult. In fact the team’s entry into the electric category was made only weeks before the race! Battery’s, although slightly more expensive, are easily sourced and fitted to the vehicle. 

The school is committed to highlighting the sustainability of electric vehicles too. Although their vehicle batteries will be charged by the main grid for the weekend, they did the maths and worked out that the solar panels on their school back in Bendigo will create enough power to offset the battery’s power use across the entire weekend in just 10-15 minutes. 

Known Ungnomes are certainly showing that they made the right choice in transforming their vehicle into a pedal electric. They finished miles ahead of any other pedal electric vehicle in the race, and comfortably outpaced the boys.

For schools wanting to know more about transforming their vehicles, BSSC has said they’re more than happy to have a chat and show you how it works.