Philadelphia Junior Solar Sprint

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PSEA celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Junior Solar Sprint in partnership with drexel university on Saturday, May 19th, 2018.

This video captures the energy of the very first Junior Solar Sprint:

Despite the dreary weather, the 200+ middle school students from 10 different schools were geared up and eager to race their model solar cars.  Every student must master the basics of solar car design: How do electrical circuits work?  What is a gear ratio and how does it influence speed?  How do weight and alignment influence performance? How do I design the car for maximum performance with a solar panel versus battery power?  Should I solder the motor or attach it with clips?  Then come the really hard decisions: What should we name the car?  How should we decorate it?

 Trouble Shooting Table: Technical Assistance, Repairs and Design Improvements

Trouble Shooting Table: Technical Assistance, Repairs and Design Improvements

A lot of math and science go into the design of these cars, as well as tons of imagination, teamwork and creativity.  That’s the beauty of the Junior Solar Sprint … it makes math and science FUN!  As Bob Nape put it, ”Everyone who raced a solar car today is a winner.”  Everyone has learned how to build a solar car that actually runs.”  Of course, some run faster than others. This year, for the first time, we had a car that had been produced by a 3-D printer, and the first time we had a “Barbie Carbie".

This event is open to all middle and junior high schools in the Philadelphia region. Typically 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th graders design, build and race model solar cars that meet the specifications of the national Junior Solar Sprint.  The program is also open to after school clubs and home schooled students. Drexel University is partnering with PSEA to engage its students as volunteers and to expand the event to reach many more schools and have an even greater public education impact.  PSEA members, consisting of solar professionals, engineers, artists and others volunteer hundreds of hours every year to make this event a success.

Check out the story on Drexel's College of Engineering website:   http://drexel.edu/engineering/news-events/archive/2018/May/solar-sprint-goes-on/

 Indoor racing at the Drexel Armory

Indoor racing at the Drexel Armory

Resources for teachers and students can now be found on the PSEA website.

  • A workshop for teachers to learn about solar energy and specifically about how to help students build winning solar cars is available free of charge.  Contact Liz Robinson at lizhrob2@gmail.com to register for a free teacher training.

  • Curriculum for teachers to introduce students to solar energy is coming soon.

  • Register for the Junior Solar Sprint Below!

The Junior Solar Sprint is a national program, recognized for its excellence in STEM education.  In the process of building their model solar cars, students learn:

  • Fundamentals of Solar Photovoltaics (PV), how to convert solar energy into electricity

  • Basic electrical circuitry and wiring

  • Battery storage

  • Physics of energy transfer:  converting solar energy into forward motion and speed

  • Gear ratios, alignment,  relationship of wheel size to gear ratio

Equally important,  the students learn a great deal about teamwork, innovation, creativity, problem solving and competition.  They get to practice grit. Most importantly, the Junior Solar Sprint is pure fun!

Sign up for the Junior Solar Sprint 

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If you have any questions please email Liz Robinson at : Lizhrob2@gmail.com