Trackside action for solar-powered student science
North Coast students have flexed their science and engineering muscle in a solar car showdown in Goonellabah near Lismore. Sven Wright reports.
24 August 2023
There wasn’t a whiff of petrol fumes nor a roar of exhausts when The Rivers Secondary College, Kadina High Campus hosted a car racetrack.
More than 100 students from 10 primary schools and three high schools took part in a Solar Car Challenge organised by The Rivers Academy of STEM Excellence.
Over the preceding weeks students had used their STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) skills to study electric circuits and renewable energy in order to produce the fastest miniature solar-powered car they could.
Teams of three to four students used kits of chassis, axles, a solar panel, wheels and gears to design and test different combinations of the components to come up with their fastest car. Finalists from each school qualified for the Solar Car Challenge.
Competition in pit lane was fierce as the primary teams readied their vehicles for a 20-metre dash, while the secondary teams tuned their cars for a series of oval pursuit races.
Nicholas from Albert Park Public School is looking to his future. “I’ve learned that I’m pretty good at engineering,” he said. “I could be an engineer.”
With Ash and Ivy, his team narrowly beat Bexhill Public School for the primary prize.
Miles, Sage and Isireli from the winning Kadina High team put their win over Richmond River High down to their attention to detail.
“We had to make our car lower…otherwise it would have flown off the track,” Miles said.
Sage added: “Wiring counts. If you get your wiring right, your car will go faster.”
The Director, Educational Leadership for the Richmond network, Kate Moore, said the venture was a great example of getting students seriously interested in subjects that will benefit them in the future.
“I’m very impressed with how professionally organised the event was and how engaged all the students were,” she said.