Hero photograph
Students around the Tesla X
Photo by Mat Kindley

Exciting day of cars and their Science

Anderley Middleton —

Wow… What a day Katikati put on last week for the Tesla model S and model X cars and the Fire Brigade demonstrations on the front field of Katikati College. 

We are the first school Tesla have ever visited in New Zealand and despite the many postponements over the last 6 months because of wet weather, they finally made it. Their presence and that of the Fire Brigade was to show our Year 10 students real life aspects from the "Crash Physics" and "Future Fuels" themed topics they have been studying in Science. 

The Fire Brigade, led by Brendon Gibbs, had two car wrecks to dismantle and used the opportunity as a training session for new recruits. They had to handle very heavy equipment such as the pummel, which was used for splitting the car apart to free trapped legs; the jaws of life,  to remove the doors and the roof of the car;  and glass cutters to remove parts of the front window without the need to remove all of it. 

Not only do the high tech Tesla cars have amazing safety features but they are also electric car and capable of self-driving. They are among the world's fastest,  with some models able to accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in 2.18 seconds. 

Students, staff and visitors were entranced with the model X, which has "dancing" gull doors and  flashing lights synchronised with the computerized car stereo in time to programmed music. It is of course totally silent when running.

Unlike a conventional car, a Tesla has nothing but holes under the bonnet and the boot. All of the engine is buried on the axles and a covered strip just below the main window. The lithium ion batteries cover all the floor space between the wheels. There was a special area for the fire brigade to disengage the electrics and they got to see how that would be done in the rare event that a Tesla had a crash. 

Thanks to Tesla New Zealand, the Katikati Fire Brigade, and to Gareth and Nicola Wynne and Mike Deane-Freeman for the wrecks and tow truck.