Solar Sprint Runs Smoothly Despite Rain

Sarah Pacheco
Wednesday - May 26, 2010
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After a rainy start to the day, the clouds parted to let the sun shine down May 3 on the 11th annual Solar Sprint Exhibition at Kapolei High School, where approximately 300 students from elementary and middle schools across Oahu - including Kapolei Middle and Waipahu Intermediate schools - used their math and science skills to build simple model cars powered by small photovoltaic (PV) panels positioned on top of a lightweight frame.

“The Solar Sprint Exhibition provides an opportunity for students to demonstrate how well they have met the standards we’ve given them,” explained Colleen Murakami of the DOE’s Student Support Branch.

One major benchmark of the exhibition is to get students looking to the sun as a major source of energy. Sunlight captured by the car’s PV panel provides a small electric motor with enough energy to propel it down a 60-foot track within 20 seconds. Once the cars met this basic requirement, the students then attempted to run their vehicles down the same course in 35 seconds with an added 12 ounces of lead weights on the car frames.

Other standards include the scientific process,nature of sciences, nature of matter and energy, force and motion, earth and space science, technological design and career planning.

Overall, 118 students met the standards set forth by the exhibition, and 126 exceeded them. Each school awards students with a $3 or $5 McDonald’s gift certificate, courtesy of event sponsor HECO, during their own year-end award assemblies.

“This was our biggest turnout yet,” Murakami said, “and the cars ran really well.”

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