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April 29, 2014 > Get ready, get sun, GO!

Get ready, get sun, GO!

By Jesse Peters

Imagine: Six cars take their mark. The sun shines down on each vehicle, not only highlighting each car's unique design, but simultaneously powering it. The engineers look at their creations as they take off - mean, green and built by middle school students.

Looking for a great way to witness the power of the sun? Cheer on those participating in the second Bay Area ÒJunior Solar Sprint Car CompetitionÓ on Saturday, May 3. The 2014 race is open to all 6th through 8th graders who register for the event and meet criteria set by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). Cars are assembled by students from kits they purchase and complete themselves. There is no cost to enter in any of the multiple race categories.

"[The competition] was designed to get kids into engineering as a career" says Bill DeHart, a teacher at Alsion Montessori Middle School. "It is open to any 6th-8th grade student that has a car. Whether team or individual, we'd like for them to sign up." In an effort to garner more interest in engineering, DeHart works with students throughout the year both at Alsion Montessori and at Tech Academy.

In previous years, students had to fly to San Diego to compete in solar sprint car competition. Although Northern California is often considered the epicenter of tech development and is home to significant post-secondary research into solar energy, no races existed in the Bay Area for junior racers. That was until last year when Alsion Montessori Middle School hosted a competition.

Although Alsion is host of the race this year, the event is completely extra-curricular and open to students from any school. There are no formal classes for developing the solar cars. "The actual build time is between two to six hours," says DeHart. "That's what it takes to put together a car and have it raceable."

Vehicles will participate in a multiple heat races, be judged on mechanical design and solar panel efficiency, as well as artistry. Judges include highly qualified experts in the field of solar engineering.

The solar car race is a great competition but also helps participants to focus their creative and intellectual energy on solar power and its application to practical solutions. As an added attraction, University of California, BerkeleyÕs solar race car team will display their solar car and answer questions.

The competition will be held behind the Old Mission in Mission San Jose and is free for all to enjoy. Check-in is at 10 a.m. Inspection, judging and races begin at 12 noon.

Additional information for the annual Junior Solar Sprint Car Competition can be found at

Junior Solar Sprint Car Competition
Saturday, May 3
10 a.m.
Mission San Jose
43326 Mission Blvd, Fremont
(510) 468-0192

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