Philadelphia Junior Solar Sprint 2019

Running on Sunshine

Running on Sunshine


the 2019 Junior Solar Sprint held in partnership with drexel university was a stunner: Perfect weather, Great venue, amazing volunteers and awesome solar cars!

The 26th  annual Junior Solar Sprint on Saturday, May 18th was a stunning success:  a celebration of solar energy and community.  The Sprint, hosted by the Philadelphia Solar Energy Association (PSEA), in partnership with Drexel University, is the culmination of an intensive, hands on STEM project for 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th graders. Given the perfect venue and weather on Saturday, 150+ middle school students got to race their model solar cars purely on solar power.  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?

A great deal 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, Race Announcer put it, ”Everyone who raced a solar car today is a winner.”  The Junior Solar Sprint is made possible through the volunteer efforts of dozens of solar professionals, electric vehicle enthusiasts, Drexel engineers and students, artists, and other folks who love kids and love solar energy.

The winners represented five of the nine participating schools, placing in Speed,  Technical Merit, Artistic Merit and Sustainability. The Junior Solar Sprint is open to all middle schools and after school programs in the Philadelphia region, including New Jersey and Delaware.  This year more than 250 students participated from Arcola, Baldi, Cedarbrook, Jenks, E.M. Stanton, Houston, Souderton Charter, Stetson, and  Wyndcroft.

The Philadelphia Solar Energy Association is comprised of an extremely dedicated and enthusiastic group of volunteers, and has sponsored this event for 26 years. “We are very excited to be partnering with Drexel University.  This partnership really enriches the event, exposing young students to a major technical University, and connecting the Drexel students directly to technical training and solar applications.  Everyone learns from each other,” stated Joe Bruno, Race Coordinator. Read more about PSEA’s partnership with Drexel.

PSEA launches Solar Summer Camp

What could be a better time to learn about solar energy than during summer camp? PSEA’s first solar summer camp, a two day training for high school students was a great success. Three fabulous teachers and 21 wonderful students from schools across the region together with great support, space and plentiful sunshine on the Institute’s roof deck gave everyone a crash course in solar car design, building and of course racing.

For more information on solar summer camps contact PSEA at

New Teacher Training Materials

PSEA has revised and updated its Teacher Training Materials for the Junior Solar Sprint. The Teacher Training Manual, the Introduction to Building a Model Solar Car and our Powerpoint are now available for download. Our thanks to CUSP and the Philadelphia Office of Sustainability for their financial support for this effort.

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

Trouble Shooting Table: Technical Assistance, Repairs and Design Improvements

Trouble Shooting Table: Technical Assistance, Repairs and Design Improvements

In 2018, 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:

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 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 :