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Kids come to MIT for Solar Sprint

More than 80 middle school students from 16 schools participated in the Boston Area Solar Energy Association's (BASEA) Eastern Massachusetts Junior Solar Sprint at MIT's Steinbrenner track on Saturday, May 20.

Working in two- to four-person teams, the students built and raced miniature solar cars. Starting with a kit consisting of a solar panel and a motor, the students designed and built the chassis and transmission out of any materials they wanted to use. The finished cars had to be able to carry a payload of an empty soda can and have a removable solar panel.

Awards were given for performance (speed), craftsmanship, technical merit and creativity (innovation). Designs included cars resembling a military tank, an ancient sailing ship, an electric guitar, a dragon, a duck and a racing shoe.

The shoe won the overall speed category. The top 20 winners will go on to the regional competition at the Springfield Science Museum on Sunday, June 11, hosted by the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association, of which BASEA is a chapter.

BASEA offers educational opportunities on the practicalities and the wider implications of sustainable energy for students, professionals and the public.��

Originally organized at MIT by Dave Brancazio (S.M. 1989, S.M. 1991) and Diane Brancazio (S.M. 1990), then by members of the MIT Solar Car Club, BASEA has been running the competition since 1995. For the second year, the MIT Laboratory for Energy and the Environment and the MIT Environmental Programs Office hosted the event. Current members of the MIT Solar Electric Vehicle Team attended this year to display one of their full-size cars.

"We're glad to bring the middle school students to a great science and engineering��institution while they learn about the possibilities of solar," said Henry Vandermark, BASEA president. "Some of the kids racing these model solar cars may be your future MIT students in a few years."

Participating Schools:

  • Dever Elementary School
  • WB Rogers Middle School
  • Wilson Middle School
  • Dana Hall School
  • Meadowbrook School of Weston
  • Shady Hill School
  • 8th Grade Academy
  • Southfield School
  • Tower School
  • Dexter School
  • Blake Middle School
  • Winsor School
  • Noble and Greenough School
  • Chenery Middle School
  • Pickering Middle School
  • Cleveland (Citizen School)

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