Longfellow Students’ ‘Solar Ruler’ Wins Annual Solar Car Competition

May 23, 2012 6:25 pmBy: 

Gentlemen, start your engines! The pack shuffles down the track

Weather was perfect — almost no clouds.  The sun rose to exactly a 57º angle from the horizon at 11 o’clock on Friday May 18, 2012 at Washington, DC.  At the start line, nine students just finished lining up the solar panel of their model car to get the most out of the sun, the only source of power for their cars.  As the race master, Charlie Garlow of the Electric Vehicle Association of Greater DC exclaimed, “Go!” and the nine students simultaneously lifted the sun-blocking panels from their cars.More than a hundred spectators, mostly from the Howard University Middle School of Mathematics and Science, cheered, “go, go, go!”  One solar car was particularly fast.  However, just before it reached the finish line it suddenly stopped.   The student at the finish line who was prepared to catch the presumed winning car squeezed his head with boths hand and tried to find out why it stalled.  Meanwhile, a slower but steadier solar car passed by and won that race.  The spectators went wild!

Solar Sprint Challenge

It was a scene at the Greater DC Solar Sprint Challenge last Friday, a model solar car competition of greater DC area, at the football field track of the Howard University main campus.  More than 120 students in grades 4 to 8 from DC, Maryland, and Virginia formed 52 teams and competed for speed, design, innovation, and team spirit to promote science, technology and energy conservation.  The challenge was to build the fastest solar powered model electric car no larger than 24 inch long and 12 inch wide and high.  The students applied their knowledge of physics and engineering to maximize their cars for speed and reliability.  The race was a double elimination competition with an additional chance to compete if eliminated in the first round.

Awards were given for design merits and team spirit in addition to speed.  Josh Yoon and Hanui Hearty, seventh graders at Longfellow Middle School, Fairfax County won the first place in the speed division with their “Solar Ruler,” a model car built on a ruler commonly found at home improvement stores.  Josh revealed one of his team secrets: “Gear ratio is everything.”

Kendall Robertson, Maria McHugo, Alice Fontaine, all fifth graders at Haycock Elementary School, Fairfax County won the design award.  “My solar panel rotates easily,” commented Alice on the rotating solar panel that can be adjusted toward the sun and was a key feature that the five judges agreed upon for the design merit.

Team spirit

The hosting school team, the Howard University Middle School of Mathematics and Science of Washington DC, received the team spirit award.  The Howard University Middle School of Mathematics and Science students not only showed off their cheerleading skills but also their responsibility by clearing the entire track and field, leaving no trash behind.

“I’ve been doing this for 23 years,” race master Garlow, an attorney for the Environmental Protection Agency and the president of the Electric Vehicle Association of Greater DC said, “and it is always fun.”  According to him, some past students of the solar car competition sent him notes of gratitude after entering science and engineering programs in college.

“Today is a good day for a solar car,” Mr. Garlow added.  Indeed, it was a good day not only for the solar model car competition in terms of weather, but also for promoting science and technology for youngsters in the region.

Photos courtesy of Dr. Dokyoung Yoon

Comments

More Top Stories

  • Education Top Stories Fairfax middle & high schools would open later under new plan

    Fairfax middle & high schools would open later under new plan

    Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) Superintendent Karen Garza will propose a recommendation on later high school start times at the school board’s business meeting on Thursday, September 18, for the Board’s formal consideration at its October 23 meeting. The Superintendent’s recommendation, which would be effective for the 2015-16 school year, proposes high schools beginning between 8 and 8:10 a.m., and middle schools beginning at 7:30 a.m.  The recommendation includes the three secondary schools beginning their day on the high school […]

    Read more →
  • Politics Top Stories Wason Poll: Warner holds big lead over Gillespie in Senate race

    Wason Poll: Warner holds big lead over Gillespie in Senate race

    Democratic Sen. Mark Warner starts the post-Labor Day campaign season with a commanding lead over former National Republican Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie in Virginia’s U.S. Senate race, according to a statewide survey released today by the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University. Likely voters favor Warner by 53 percent, compared with 31 percent for Gillespie, according to the survey. Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis holds a 5% share of the overall vote, with 11% undecided. Warner has stronger […]

    Read more →
  • Health Politics Top Stories McAuliffe announces plan to expand healthcare services

    McAuliffe announces plan to expand healthcare services

    Governor Terry McAuliffe Monday launched “A Healthy Virginia,” a 10-step plan to expand healthcare services to over 200,000 Virginians. It includes authorizations of four emergency regulations, one executive order, and other measures to expand healthcare to Virginia veterans, children, and families. “As governor, there is no greater responsibility than ensuring the health and safety of the citizens you serve. That is why I am so proud to stand here today and unveil ‘A Healthy Virginia’ – a plan that will improve […]

    Read more →
  • Springfield Top Stories Transportation New lanes speed Telegraph Road traffic in Springfield

    New lanes speed Telegraph Road traffic in Springfield

    Two months prior to the project’s final completion, the Virginia Department of Transportation has opened major improvements along Telegraph Road in Alexandria. Drivers on Telegraph now have two lanes in each direction between South Van Dorn Street and South Kings Highway, as well as the following new turn lanes to relieve backups accessing I-495 via South Van Dorn and the bottleneck south of the intersections: · Right-turn lane from northbound Telegraph Road to South Kings Highway · Right-turn lane from […]

    Read more →
  • Politics Top Stories McAuliffe boosts gas pipeline but environmental groups dissent

    McAuliffe boosts gas pipeline but environmental groups dissent

    To hear Gov. Terry McAuliffe tell it, the proposed Atlantic Coast natural gas pipeline is Virginia’s pathway to prosperity. To the Virginia League of Conservation Voters its value is “dubious.” “Dominion and its industry partners appear willing to invest billions on outdated ideas that will threaten Virginia’s natural landscape – with an outcome of a paltry 188 long-term jobs. It appeared that there were a greater number of industry lobbyists at today’s press conference than the number of permanent jobs […]

    Read more →
  • Chantilly Education Top Stories Local dancers win six world championships

    Local dancers win six world championships

    Chantilly-based Creative Dance Center Competition Team (CDC*CT) crowned its award-winning season at the Star Dance Alliance World Dance Championships held at the Meadowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus, New Jersey. The CDC*CT made it to the finals, securing six first place championships and two second place championships in various divisions. “I am extremely proud. I am very fortunate to work with a very talented staff of choreographers/teachers, the very best parents, and the most amazing group of dancers any studio director […]

    Read more →
  • Education Top Stories GMU partners with TheDream.US to aid undocumented students

    GMU partners with TheDream.US to aid undocumented students

    George Mason University announced today that it will be an education partner with TheDream.US, a private national scholarship fund that helps highly motivated undocumented students attend college. TheDream.US works with colleges across the nation by awarding up to $25,000 to students who qualify and have received and maintained Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status. The goal of the scholarship is in line with George Mason’s commitment to making college accessible and affordable. And it supports Mason’s desire to collaborate […]

    Read more →
  • Springfield Top Stories Transportation Jeff Todd Road opens, linking Route 1 & Telegraph Road

    Jeff Todd Road opens, linking Route 1 & Telegraph Road

    For the first time since 9/11, Fairfax County motorists will have a way to get between Route 1 and Telegraph Road, traveling through Fort Belvoir. Jeff Todd Way (Route 619), a new, nearly three-mile road that was built through a partnership between the county, state and federal governments, opened last week. Along with U.S. Rep. Jim Moran, Fairfax County and state officials marked the road’s opening at a ribbon cutting ceremony today. Fairfax County contributed $12 million to the project […]

    Read more →

Weather forecast by WP Wunderground & Denver Snow Service