The concept of solar cars carries plenty of intrigue for the future of the entire energy industry. If energy is capable of being generated to power automobiles efficiently enough to operate primarily with solar power, that could be the ease off of oil that could trigger a massive shift in global economics.
But that technology is still a ways away from fully competing in the automotive world. And if bright enough minds are going to make this happen, it’s only fitting that those minds start at a young age.
This week, an event began for some of those bright minds that could help foster the next generation of industry innovators. Take a look at an article excerpt below that details a challenge for these students to create their best solar-powered automobile to complete a length road trip…
Hundreds of high school students from around the country will embark on a solar-powered road trip Tuesday.
Teams of high school kids have spent the last one to two years building solar-powered cars to participate in the 20th annual Winston Science Academy’s Solar Challenge.
They will drive their cars from Fort Worth, Texas to Los Angeles.
The cross-country journey is not a race.
“We really de-emphasize competition and emphasize comradery,” said Lehman Marks, the event coordinator.
If one of the teams is pulled off on the shoulder to work on its car, a passing team is expected to stop and offer assistance. The group comes together at the end of every day to eat together and start again the next day. They travel about 200 miles a day on average.
The cars, all topped with solar panels, end up being spread out along the road as some can travel faster than others and have more or fewer problems.
The teams of high school students work to build functional road-worthy cars powered entirely with solar energy that they can effectively drive long distances on highways. They stick to two-lane roads with wide shoulders and trailer their cars through areas that won’t be easy to navigate for all.
“These are high school kids,” Marks said. “Most of the cars aren’t fast enough. I wouldn’t put them on the Interstate.”
The total distance between Fort Worth and Los Angeles is 1,200 miles. But students will only drive 880 of those miles in their solar cars, Marks said. The Solar Car Challenge started in 1993 as a way to engage students in the sciences.
“It’s really gotten popular as people have finally come around to believing in project-based learning,” Marks said.
The academy recently got the results of an informal study that shows students who participate in their solar car program are 23 percent more likely to go into a science or engineering career than students who take Advanced Placement or honors-level science and math classes.
With competitive bragging rights at stake, this program could produce some exciting results in the future for the solar energy industry. We’ve got to think that the continued evolution of solar technology will only raise the stakes too. One would hope too that rather than milk energy out of the car for charging cell phones and tablets for the ride, they’ll soon rely on other great stand alone solar charging sources to meet their needs.
To read some more on this competition, check out the full article referenced above right here: http://www.cleanenergyauthority.com/solar-energy-news/solar-car-challenge-starts-tuesday-072213