By Hunterdon County Democrat
Students at seven Hunterdon elementary and middle schools are busy working, in teams, to design and build model solar powered racing cars in preparation for a Junior Solar Sprints (JSS) race competition scheduled for this Friday, May 16.
The event will be held at Kingwood Township School. Teams from Califon Public School, Clinton Public School, East Amwell Township School, Alexandria Middle School, High Bridge Middle School, and Frenchtown Elementary School will compete.
The teams, comprised of three to four students each, spend months brainstorming and collaborating to transform a few components including a motor, wheels, axles and a solar panel into a unique and functioning model racing car. On race day, teams compete by racing their cars down four parallel 66-foot-long tracks. The teams continue to race, through an elimination process, until the final speed competition winner is determined.
In addition to the Speed competition, entries are evaluated by a panel of judges in the categories of engineering, craftsmanship, best use of recycled materials and documentation portfolio. Team scores are totaled and winners are revealed at an awards presentation at the conclusion of the race. Division winners will advance to the Inter-County Final race on May 28 at Ridgedale Middle School, Florham Park.
Making science come alive and fun is how one middle school student describes Junior Solar Sprints. “It’s more than crossing the finish line. It’s our team working together, building our model car and then competing against other schools on race day. It’s awesome,” she shared.
“We’re thrilled that this year’s Junior Solar Sprint Division 5 race has attracted the largest participation we’ve had in both size and scope,” commented John F. Ciaffone, TransOptions President. It’s grown over nine percent to include 4,529 students on 1,120 teams from 61 schools in Bergen, Essex, Hunterdon, Morris, Somerset, Sussex, Union and Warren counties. That’s a tangible endorsement for environmental education and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education,” he adds.
Now in its 13th year, JSS is an environmental education program that aligns with STEM education which is growing in importance nation-wide. The Division 5 race will be hosted by HART Commuter Information Services, a Hunterdon based non profit organization promoting sustainable transportation and TransOptions, a non-profit delivering programs and services for commuters, employers and communities in Warren, Sussex and Morris counties.
“HART is very pleased to partner with TransOptions to expand the JSS program into Hunterdon County this year, says Tara Shepherd executive director of HART Commuter Information Services. “JSS engages students in a way that is interactive, allowing them to see the viability of alternative energy firsthand,” she adds.
Sponsors help provide the Junior Solar Sprint program free of charge to students, schools, teachers and school districts. HART and TransOptions gratefully acknowledge the Alcoa Foundation as the primary sponsor this year along with PSE&G, Thorlabs, Pitsco, FirstEnergy Foundation and the New Jersey Herald.
For more information, contact Nathan Charron, Environmental Education Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org or call 908-788-5553, ext 17.
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