CONTRIBUTED BY DENVER ACADEMY
Star innovators and engineers from Denver Academy in the U.S. and Fairgreen International School in Dubai competed in the second International Jr. Solar Sprint Race this spring. The learners designed and engineered solar model cars to race under the sun on their respective sides of the planet. To the best of the organizers’ knowledge, this is the only international school solar sprint race. Race teams competed for the highly coveted prize of a $100 iTunes gift card.
The Million Solar Stars (MSS) Challenge is an initiative to engage 1 million students in the process of scaling up solar power at 100 percent schools around the world. Students build solar models and then inspire their schools to scale up solar with pilot and commercial installations. The International Jr. Solar Sprint demonstrated how learning about solar can be fun, competitive and scalable.
The international partnership between Denver Academy and Million Solar Stars began in the spring of 2018. The initiative provides hands-on learning of the process of creating and racing solar model cars. It includes design, engineering and problem-solving, as well as the added excitement of competition across the globe.
2019 races took place on different dates this spring at both DA and FIS, while teachers verified and uploaded race times to the International Jr. Solar Sprint Race Leader Board. Originally scheduled to take place during STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Week at Denver Academy in March, the race was postponed due to a blizzard in Denver. The DA race took place on April 8 and participants had the opportunity to hear a presentation by Stefan Wilson, a professional Indy 500 race car driver who lives in the Denver area. The driver, who almost won the 2018 Indianapolis 500, talked to the students about the science of racing and the importance of solar. Also, the company SimpliPhi Power was on campus to demonstrate their company’s solar technology through a sound system powered by solar.
The FIS race in Dubai took place on March 3. It included a partnership with Akon Lighting America and a visit at the event by philanthropist, business mogul and five-time Grammy-nominated artist, Akon. There were 35 young innovators who competed in the race.
The winners of this year’s international race were a sixth-grade team from the Fairgreen International School in Dubai, Starla and Aaron of the team “Flame Riders” with the time of 8.97 seconds. The winners of those who competed at Denver Academy were Sailor and Zoe of “Team Zailor” with a time of 10.02 seconds. In 2018, the win went to a Denver Academy team.
Fairgreen science teacher/Million Solar Stars Representative, Adam Hall spearheaded the Dubai race. “This year’s International Jr. Solar Sprint was a big success as student engineers competed with their solar model race cars from Dubai to Denver. Thanks to Akon and Stefan Wilson for supporting the Million Solar Stars Challenge and celebrating the students as Stars,” said Mr. Hall.
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