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Derry

June 6, 2013

Students go head to head in Solar Sprint event

Students compete in solar car contest

DERRY — Local middle-school students will go head to head to see how far and how fast their cars will go.

Teams representing both West Running Brook and Gilbert H. Hood Middle schools will take part in the upcoming Junior Solar Spring competition Saturday, June 8, at Hood Middle School. The event was moved indoors after an extended forecast called for rain Saturday.

The national program was developed to provide a hands-on opportunity for students to apply their studies in science, technology, math, engineering and problem solving to design, build and race solar-powered cars.

“Students have an exciting opportunity to apply the scientific concepts they are learning in class to a real world challenge with Junior Solar Sprint,” event organizer Tom Minnon said.

Minnon is a member of Derry Energy and Environmental Advisory Committee.

His home at 9 Datillo Road is a lesson in energy-savings efficiency. He has made his 2,400-square-foot converted bungalow an example of what can be done to help the environment — and save money. About 30 percent of the home’s electricity comes from solar sources. Solar panels warm the home on sunny days.

He said the Solar Spring competition teaches students more about the power of the sun.

Each team is required to build a model car to be powered by the sun. Students use a solar photovoltaic cell that will convert the solar energy into electricity.

Students must also use knowledge of weight, resistance and aerodynamic drive when building their vehicles for optimal speed and reliability.

The race between middle schools will be a double elimination competition with awards going to the fastest car.

Awards will be given in design categories, too, including Most Creative and Best Craftsmanship.

Minnon said the solar competition will teach students valuable lessons.

“They develop teamwork and problem-solving abilities,” Minnon said “They investigate environmental issues, gain hands-on engineering skills and use principals of science and math to get the fastest, most interesting, and best crafted vehicle.”

The event begins at 9 a.m. with races set to start at 10 a.m. An awards ceremony follows the races.

The Junior Solar Sprint is sponsored by the U.S. Army Educational Outreach Program and run by the Technology Student Association. For information, visit jrsolarsprint.org.

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