Throughout term one the Year 6 students have been working on a solar car project. Synergy and STAWA (Science Teacher’s Association of WA) provided solar car kits to schools who had registered for the project and challenge. The kit included enough materials for the students to build up to ten solar cars. At each lesson this term the students have conducted investigations with the solar cars such as
- Which wheels give the car it’s greatest speed over 20m?
- How does cloud cover affect the solar energy output of the solar panels?
- What panel angle generates the most energy?
The project came to a climax today when 8 of our students competed in a race day at Willetton Primary School. We departed St Emilie’s at 8:45am in our maxi taxi and arrived at Willetton fully prepared to confront the challenge ahead of us. Mrs Cogger took 8 students – 4 competitors, 2 students with a model car and 2 spectators.
Immediately the coordinators ‘eyed off’ our model that had been carefully designed and constructed by Riley and Cohen and moved it onto the trophy table.
At 9:30am the competition commenced. The students had 60 minutes to build a solar car from scratch and test it out. There was a ‘hum’ of enthusiastic and engaged scientists at work in the hall at Willetton Primary School.
As luck would have it one of the schools that had registered did not show up, so the coordinators asked if our 4 spectators would like to enter. The team got off to a later start but they managed to have their vehicle build in time for the race. So now we had a St Emilie’s A and a St Emilie’s B team. Smiles all round as our spectators were now involved and also getting an opportunity to showcase their skills.
There were three race tracks set up in the hall so that the students could test out their cars.
The goal of the competition was to race the car along a 20m track made out of corflute board. Here are a few photos so that you can see the challenge that the students had to confront.
Unfortunately given today’s overcast conditions the students had to use battery packs as an alternative to the solar panel. Two students set their cars at the start line and at the finish line another pair of students had to ‘catch’ the cars so that they didn’t crash into the sand bags.
And the final result……
St Emilie’s Team A came fourth.
And Cohen and Riley won the best model prize
Mrs Cogger would like to add her own comments about the day. The students were a delight to take to the competition. They used their problem solving skills and faced all the challenges with a positive attitude. They were polite and extremely well -behaved. The students were happy to celebrate the success of the other competitors.
This is the first time that a solar car challenge event has been offered to primary and secondary students. The event was very well run and the coordinators were approachable, creating a positive atmosphere for learning and competing.
Mrs Cogger would also like to thank Mr Sayer our mentor through the Scientists in Schools program for giving up his time to work with the students and discuss such challenges as the angle of the panel, how to keep the car running straight and other obstacles and problems as they arose.