Teacher Lee Briggs on technology in today's classroom. Brought to you by Weekly Reader.

My Little Welsh Pony

I am persecuted relentlessly in my school every day. Every day I drive to work I am openly mocked by my students for my way of life.

I speak, of course, of my 2007 Toyota Yaris.

Me and my ride

Greenwood, a farming town of around 1000 people, is solidly truck country. There is some debate between GM and Ford, but a man without a truck makes as much sense as a cow walking on its hind legs. My entire car fits in the wheelbase of most of my students’ beloved trucks. And for this, I am mocked.

My car has been as dependable as the sunrise, tough as a mule, and nimble as a mountain goat. It has survived every winter for the last five years, been loaded down with a week’s worth of camping gear, driven through snowstorms that dumped two feet of snow on the state, and survived a direct hit from Bambi at 70 MPH. But to my students, there is only one eliminating factor: it can’t tow.

It does not matter that I love cars, that I used to work at a racetrack, or that I have seen every episode of Top Gear. My car gets no respect in my classroom.

So I decided, in a roundabout way, to defend my little Welsh pony in a lesson on Microsoft Excel. Using Edmunds.com, my students researched a replacement for my beloved steed. The requirements were as follows:

  • The replacement has to be economical
  • The replacement has to cost under $20,000
  • It has to be cool

Using Excel’s formula functions, my students were able to use the mileage information on Edmunds to find out how much it costs me to drive any car per mile, per day, and per year. They also were able to look up information such as displacement and MSRP. They then created graphs for each of these cars and presentations that tried to ‘sell’ me on a new ride.

Imagine the spring in my step when nearly overwhelming evidence pointed right at my car as one of the best for me.

Yaris for the win!

I was happy with the runners up, which included the Ford Fiesta, Mini Cooper, and the very cool 2013 Beetle.

However, when this was presented, my students had to point out: “It still doesn’t tow.”

A typical parking lot in Greenwood

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Comments on: "My Little Welsh Pony" (7)

  1. What a fun story! You could have also used the tool at http://www.edmunds.com/car-match but your student involvement sounds great 🙂 Email pr at edmunds dot com if you’d like a free tshirt.

  2. I agree with what youve done, however I dont agree with it being a foreign car. We need to teach these young kids also how to buy whats made in the US so we can keep jobs here!

  3. Hi Lee: We put a link about the story on Edmunds Facebook page. Not all our readers love the Yaris, but many appreciate the lesson you taught with it! http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150331849038990&set=a.97657733989.90322.5798888989&type=3&theater

    –Carroll Lachnit, features editor, Edmunds.com

  4. Lee Briggs said:

    Thanks for feedback! Deanna: it actually did come up where the cars were made, and my students did mention that as a pro/con to buying a particular model. In my case (and I regret this) there were not a lot of American-Made cars that had low cost and high mileage, at least when I bought my car 5 years ago. My students did find out that the Ford Fiesta and Chevy Cruz were comparable to my Yaris and actually listed being an American Product as a plus in their final report. I suppose the goal of this was to get my students thinking critically about a realistic problem and using graphs and data to make an educated decision.

  5. […] have conducted lessons on cars before, and my students have responded well. The article makes that point that American […]

  6. […] the metric system is condemned because it is associated with an object of universal hatred: My Toyota. I then explain that Canada uses the metric system and if any of them want to go fishing or hunting […]

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