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Students test Chevy Volt's emissions

Brennan H.S. students learn how vehicle emissions impact the environment

Cheryl VannLeeuwen took a test tube to the back side of an electric car, the Chevy Volt, pulled the emissions in, and sealed the cap.

She showed the test tube to her environmental science students, a college class comprised of juniors and seniors. The emissions from the Volt were what VanLeeuwen expected—zero.

The class also recently collected carbon monoxide emissions data from a Mercedes, a Scion, a Mustang and a Cadillac. She held the other test tubes, showing her students the Mercedes and the Scion were the worst of the bunch.

VanLeeuwen said the experiment is meant to spark critical thinking with her students, so they will think about more than just how pretty a car might be when it's their turn to buy one.

"I want them on a practical note to be wise consumers," VanLeeuwen said. "I want them to look at all aspects, not just which is the best looking car or what color car of car do we want."

John Wommack with Wommack Chevrolet in Castroville brought the Volt for the class to test. He said the Volt will run 35 miles without using any gas. It takes 10 hours to charge and $1 in electricity a day to do it, and is a zero emissions vehicle.

He believes more people will become attracted to vehicles like this when they are mass produced and more affordable.

"It's great that people are interested," he said. "They want to see the car. They want to find out more about it and how it can help them and save on pollution and lower our dependence on foreign oil."

Students are learning a big lesson.

"Regular cars that emit emissions from fossil fuels, they cause a lot of damage because it hurts the ozone layers from the carbon monoxide," said senior Valerie Jimenez.

"I think later on in the future, people will notice how efficient this is compared to regular cars and hopefully in the future they'll make the right decision and buy electric cars," Michael Mendoza added.