McNair Junior High students break barriers at GreenPower USA Toyota Classic

“It makes us feel empowered. Like we can do things that men can also do,"

Posted: May 2, 2021 10:46 AM
Updated: May 3, 2021 12:38 PM

Saturday, the GreenPower USA Toyota Classic, went on in Huntsville at Milton Frank Stadium. The event is where students race in electric cars they built themselves.

36 teams from Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee came to Huntsville to compete in the race. Each team is run by students in the GreenPower Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Program. 

Vriyana McCraw and the other members of the McNair Junior High girls team are breaking barriers in the world of STEM.

“It makes us feel like we can be independent and do things even though we are women," said McCraw. "Most women are not in engineering because they don’t really know how to do that and it’s helping us learn to be independent and not be so dependent on men.”

McCraw, Prestige Aliche, and Ziona Harper all joined their school's GreenPower team this year. Aliche is her team's lead engineer, and she said it's something she can see herself doing in the future.

“I started it because I want to take an engineering course in University and that’s why I wanted to take something that has to do with it," said Aliche.

According to the United States Census Bureau, women make up only 27% of STEM workers.

“It makes us feel empowered. Like we can do things that men can also do," said Aliche.

The National Science Foundation shows African American women make up less than 3% of STEM workers. 

“We’re young black ladies at that, and most people think we can’t do certain things," said McCraw. She said the statistic makes her feel like a role model to other young black girls. 

With the pandemic disrupting schools, Harper said it made the whole process more difficult.

“COVID-19 impacted us a lot because we haven’t been able to work together a lot because of it, and this is our first time doing it outside of school because of COVID-19," she said.

At the end of the day, all three girls are proud of the work they've done and all they've accomplished.

“Getting to be out here and race. We may not win but at least we tried," said Harper.

The Greenpower mission is to advance the understanding of STEM topics and inspire innovation in young people. Many of the participants told WAAY 31 they can't wait to have their race season continue.

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