Students watch their solar-powered cars make their way down the track. Credits: Christy Potter Kass
Cars were judged on speed, engineering, craftsmanship and best use of recycled materials. Credits: Christy Potter Kass
Students watch their cars race down the track. Credits: Christy Potter Kass
The solar powered cars, like "Duckalicious," allowed students to show their creativity. Credits: Christy Potter Kass
Students held folders over the cars' solar panels before the starting buzzer. Credits: Christy Potter Kass
Students cheer as cars race down the track. Credits: Christy Potter Kass
Here Comes the Sun: New Providence Students Wow Judges in Solar Car Competition
Saturday, May 19, 2012 • 9:21am
NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - Turns out Mother Nature is a big fan of New Providence schools.
After days and days of rain, the sun came out in full force on Thursday for the 11th annual Junior Solar Sprints Competition, held on the track at the middle school track. Students lined up by team to race the solar-powered cars they'd created, while classmates watched and cheered.
Sponsored by TransOptions, the Junior Solar Sprints Competition (JSS) is an environmental education program hosted by the non-profit Transportation Management Association at no cost to middle school students, teachers and schools in TransOptions’ northwest New Jersey service area. First Energy was this year’s primary sponsor. PSE&G, the New Jersey Herald and East Coast Alternative Energy also were supporters.
“Hosting the Junior Solar Sprints Competition demonstrates TransOptions commitment to the helping future generations learn about an alternative fuel, conserving resources and helping the environment,” said John F. Ciaffone, TransOptions president. “We are proud to support STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education with content that aligns to New Jersey Core Curriculum Standards and gratified by the ongoing success of this enrichment program.”
Race day is the culmination of months of preparation by more than 3,500 students from 52 middle schools participating this year.
The teams started on a level playing field; each receiving basic components including a solar panel, a motor, wheels and axles along with rules for the competition. Next came weeks of applying creativity, teamwork and science skills to design and build their unique model racing cars. During the process, the students witnessed alternative energy first-hand as they harnessed solar energy to power their racing cars down the 66-foot long track.
Entries are judged in the categories of speed, engineering, craftsmanship and best use of recycled materials. Each team is also required to submit a documentation portfolio providing a record of their concept, design, development and comments. A panel of volunteer judges, drawn from local businesses and communities, contribute their time and scientific expertise to evaluate student entries.
Immediately following the competition, awards were presented to each student on the winning teams. Teams winning in speed, craftsmanship, engineering and best use of recycled materials advance to the Inter-County Final competition which will be held at Central Park of Morris County on May 29, with a rain date of May 31.
New Providence schools had a great showing in the competition. Team “Ying Yang” from Allen W. Roberts School took first place in speed. Team members include Nikko Pangasnan, Ben Homa, Sean Yu and Jonathan Hua.
Team “Shannanaganz” from New Providence Middle School took first place in engineering. Team members include Steven Shan, Malay Nanavaty, Elizabeth Mohan and Emily Eng.
Team “Ice Cream Time” from Allen W. Roberts School took second place in Students’ Choice, although they won’t move on to the Inter-County Final. Team members include Danielle Nisberg, Sarah Bottazzi and Sydney Cahill.
Additional speed teams moving on include “Apollo Rover” from New Providence Middle School.