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Fun from the Sun: Solar Car Race Showcases Energy Alternatives

May 2, 2008 — All day Friday, Junior Solar Sprint race organizers and participants kept an eye on big gray clouds that kept trying to obscure the sun, rushing to run another heat when the sun came out.
"Despite the clouds, the best-designed cars will run," said Bevin Smith, director of the V.I. Energy Office. "They don't need full sun. Our main worry is rain and getting the track wet."
This year's big winner was again Sts. Peter and Paul on St. Thomas. One of the school's teams took first place in the speed category, while another took third place.
This was the 13th Junior Solar Sprint Competition run by the Energy Office. It is designed as a hands-on educational experience for junior high school students to improve their knowledge of science, engineering and renewable energy. The students designed and constructed the cars using basic materials contributed by the Energy Office. Each school received three car kits. The cars are made of balsa wood with a little solar panel attached at an angle on top.
"This is a great experience to learn about solar energy and how to help our environment," said Jennifer Vante, an eighth grader at Sts. Peter and Paul and a member of the first-place team.
More than 130 students attended the race held in the Wendy's parking lot at Sunny Isles shopping center. Students from 22 private, public and parochial schools in the territory participated.
"Over the years, with this race, students have gained knowledge, and are now miles ahead on solar energy," said Smith, who originally brought the race to the Virgin Islands. "This is a thoughtful, fun activity to get kids involved."
Sandra Lashley, a teacher at the Manor School, brought board games to keep her students occupied.
"It was exciting to see the kids having fun while learning about solar energy," Lashley said. "The camaraderie and cooperation among all of the students today was great."
The competition had an added attraction this year. In previous years, students have learned how solar energy can power their model race cars. This year they saw how solar energy can be used to power real cars. On display was a totally electric car, along with a hybrid car. The Energy Office had solar panels hooked up to charge the electric cars.
"If we as consumers have the same awareness of the abundance of solar as kids do, we wouldn't be in the energy situation we are in," said Arlen Wheeler, owner and sales representative of the Global Electric Motorcar (GEM). He called the GEM "a golf cart on steroids."
His model has a governor that keeps it from going above 25 miles per hour. With the governor removed the car can go 35 mph, he said. The only highway in the Virgin Islands the car can't travel on is the Melvin Evans Highway, Wheeler said.
The race winners:
First (Sts. Peter and Paul): Jennifer Vante and Sarah Ann Charles
Second (Arthur A. Richards): Clemrick Bryan and Kaheam Stanley
Third (Sts. Peter and Paul): Aubrey Warner and Cadim Sabin
Fourth (St. Patrick's): Brandon Lawrence and DeAndre Asson
Fifth (Sts. Peter and Paul): Danlia Daniel and Ashlee Forney
Design winners:
First (Sts. Peter and Paul): Jennifer Vante and Sarah Ann Charles
Second (Sts. Peter and Paul): Ashlee Forney and Danlia Daniel
Third (Kingshill): Aaron Schaffer and Ian Heath
Fourth (Sts. Peter and Paul): Aubrey Warner and Cadim Sabim
Fifth (Kingshill): Martin Burgos and Clayton Bradford
Second-place winner Clemrick Bryan said he had a feeling his team would place after they won four out of five races.
"This is a fun way to learn about solar energy," Bryan said.
Participating St. Croix schools included St. Patrick's, Arthur A. Richards Jr. High, Good Hope Church of God Academy, Country Day, Elena Christian Jr. High, Free Will Baptist, John H. Woodson Jr. High, The Manor School, St. Mary's, Positive Connections, IQRA Educational Center and the Kingshill School.
Participating St. Thomas schools included Antilles, Bertha C. Boschulte Junior High, Sts. Peter and Paul, All Saints, Addelita Cancryn Junior High, Montessori, Moravian and Church of God Academy.
"Overall the race was very well-organized," said Dave Watterson, coach of the Country Day School team. "The students are enthusiastic about this great learning experience."
Also helping out at the race were volunteers from the governor's office, Department of Natural Resources, Water and Power Authority and Sen. Louis Patrick Hill's staff.
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May 2, 2008 -- All day Friday, Junior Solar Sprint race organizers and participants kept an eye on big gray clouds that kept trying to obscure the sun, rushing to run another heat when the sun came out.
"Despite the clouds, the best-designed cars will run," said Bevin Smith, director of the V.I. Energy Office. "They don't need full sun. Our main worry is rain and getting the track wet."
This year's big winner was again Sts. Peter and Paul on St. Thomas. One of the school's teams took first place in the speed category, while another took third place.
This was the 13th Junior Solar Sprint Competition run by the Energy Office. It is designed as a hands-on educational experience for junior high school students to improve their knowledge of science, engineering and renewable energy. The students designed and constructed the cars using basic materials contributed by the Energy Office. Each school received three car kits. The cars are made of balsa wood with a little solar panel attached at an angle on top.
"This is a great experience to learn about solar energy and how to help our environment," said Jennifer Vante, an eighth grader at Sts. Peter and Paul and a member of the first-place team.
More than 130 students attended the race held in the Wendy's parking lot at Sunny Isles shopping center. Students from 22 private, public and parochial schools in the territory participated.
"Over the years, with this race, students have gained knowledge, and are now miles ahead on solar energy," said Smith, who originally brought the race to the Virgin Islands. "This is a thoughtful, fun activity to get kids involved."
Sandra Lashley, a teacher at the Manor School, brought board games to keep her students occupied.
"It was exciting to see the kids having fun while learning about solar energy," Lashley said. "The camaraderie and cooperation among all of the students today was great."
The competition had an added attraction this year. In previous years, students have learned how solar energy can power their model race cars. This year they saw how solar energy can be used to power real cars. On display was a totally electric car, along with a hybrid car. The Energy Office had solar panels hooked up to charge the electric cars.
"If we as consumers have the same awareness of the abundance of solar as kids do, we wouldn't be in the energy situation we are in," said Arlen Wheeler, owner and sales representative of the Global Electric Motorcar (GEM). He called the GEM "a golf cart on steroids."
His model has a governor that keeps it from going above 25 miles per hour. With the governor removed the car can go 35 mph, he said. The only highway in the Virgin Islands the car can't travel on is the Melvin Evans Highway, Wheeler said.
The race winners:
First (Sts. Peter and Paul): Jennifer Vante and Sarah Ann Charles
Second (Arthur A. Richards): Clemrick Bryan and Kaheam Stanley
Third (Sts. Peter and Paul): Aubrey Warner and Cadim Sabin
Fourth (St. Patrick's): Brandon Lawrence and DeAndre Asson
Fifth (Sts. Peter and Paul): Danlia Daniel and Ashlee Forney
Design winners:
First (Sts. Peter and Paul): Jennifer Vante and Sarah Ann Charles
Second (Sts. Peter and Paul): Ashlee Forney and Danlia Daniel
Third (Kingshill): Aaron Schaffer and Ian Heath
Fourth (Sts. Peter and Paul): Aubrey Warner and Cadim Sabim
Fifth (Kingshill): Martin Burgos and Clayton Bradford
Second-place winner Clemrick Bryan said he had a feeling his team would place after they won four out of five races.
"This is a fun way to learn about solar energy," Bryan said.
Participating St. Croix schools included St. Patrick's, Arthur A. Richards Jr. High, Good Hope Church of God Academy, Country Day, Elena Christian Jr. High, Free Will Baptist, John H. Woodson Jr. High, The Manor School, St. Mary's, Positive Connections, IQRA Educational Center and the Kingshill School.
Participating St. Thomas schools included Antilles, Bertha C. Boschulte Junior High, Sts. Peter and Paul, All Saints, Addelita Cancryn Junior High, Montessori, Moravian and Church of God Academy.
"Overall the race was very well-organized," said Dave Watterson, coach of the Country Day School team. "The students are enthusiastic about this great learning experience."
Also helping out at the race were volunteers from the governor's office, Department of Natural Resources, Water and Power Authority and Sen. Louis Patrick Hill's staff.
Back Talk Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.