Junior Solar Sprint teaches students about renewable energy

The annual competition in California sees middle school students battle it out to go to the national engineering competition in Atlanta, Georgia

Last week, hundreds of middle school students gathered at Olivenhain Pioneer Elementary School in Carlsbad to harness the power of the sun and compete to be the 2018 Southern California Junior Solar Sprint champion. The winning team will be sent to the national competition in Atlanta, Georgia, by Sullivan Solar Power, who has been sponsoring the largest Junior Solar Sprint competition in California since 2009.

The Junior Solar Sprint is an international competition where fifth- through eighth-grade students use teamwork and ingenuity to build and compete model solar-powered cars that are judged on design, originality, construction and fastest time.

This year Sullivan Solar Power donated 125 solar car kits to 15 schools across Orange and San Diego counties. For the past few weeks, the students have been building, testing and refining their solar-powered cars in preparation for the big race. Participating students learn valuable hands-on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills, while also learning about the benefits and importance of renewable energy.

My students look forward to the competition every year and it’s the best feeling when kids see their cars go for the first time and are shouting with excitement. – Sarah Hillard, Millennial Tech Middle School

“Solar energy is something students have heard about on TV, seen on homes or learned about in science class, and the Junior Solar Sprint provides an opportunity for students to really interact with solar energy,” said Sarah Hillard, a teacher from Millennial Tech Middle School. “My students look forward to the competition every year and it’s the best feeling when kids see their cars go for the first time and are shouting with excitement.”

The winning Junior Solar Sprint team will once again have the opportunity to travel to Atlanta, Georgia, in June to compete in the national competition, which is held annually in conjunction with the Technology Student Association and the Army Education Outreach Program. Last year, Sullivan Solar Power sponsored the winning team – “Dan II” from Joan MacQueen Middle School – at Nationals in Orlando, Florida, where they went undefeated and placed first.

“Junior Solar Sprint is one of my favourite events we sponsor – we’re teaching future leaders how to harness the power of the sun in a fun, educational platform,” said Daniel Sullivan, founder and president of Sullivan Solar Power. “Through this annual event we are able to give kids a peek of the future where our homes and cars are powered by clean energy, which is very important for our society to move forward.”

Local surf guru Scott Bass was emcee at Saturday’s event, and Encinitas Deputy Mayor and Encinitas Union School District parent Joe Mosca spoke during the lunch period alongside the 2017 winners Ramses Lara and Hayden Laurie. Panasonic Solar and Everest Solar System, a racking company from Oceanside, joined Sullivan Solar Power as sponsors of this year’s event. It is also supported by Climate Action Campaign, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 569, National Electrical Contractors Association San Diego and the Encinitas Educational Foundation. 

For more information, head to www.juniorsolarsprint.org.

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