More than 300 students and teachers from throughout Florida participated in the 2007 EnergyWhiz Olympics at the Florida Solar Energy Center on Saturday, May 12. Events included solar car races, hydrogen fuel cell vehicle races, a photovoltaic design competition called “Energy Innovations” and a solar-powered boat demonstration.
Students from elementary through high schools took part in the alternative fuel competitions. The largest event, with 61 teams, was the Junior Solar Sprint. Middle-school students designed and built model-sized, solar-powered vehicles, which they raced during the competition. Awards were given to the top performing vehicles based on design, quality of craftsmanship, innovation and speed.
Eight returning teams that scored the highest in an academic bowl held in April participated in the Middle School Science Bowl Hands-on Hydrogen competition, the second part of the Southeast Regional Science Bowl. The finalists were required to design and build a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle to qualify for the National Science Bowl competition. The top academic team, Lincoln Middle School from Gainesville, will represent the Southeastern United States in the national competition to be held in June in Denver.
The High School Hydrogen Sprint competition demonstrated to the students the potential of hydrogen as an alternative fuel source. This program also allowed graduates of the Junior Solar Sprint to continue designing and building alternative-fueled vehicles. The 11 participating high school teams designed and built the hydrogen fuel cell vehicles they raced. The teams also presented 10-minute lessons on a variety of hydrogen research topics.
In the newest competition, “Energy Innovations,” teams from across Florida developed full-scale working solar electric designs. In addition, these middle and high school students developed marketing and promotional materials to educate consumers about the students’ engineering achievements.
“Energy Innovations is a real-world design competition,” said Susan Schleith, education coordinator for FSEC. “The program was a collaborative effort between BP Solar, the Florida Solar Energy Research and Education Foundation and the Florida Solar Energy Center. BP donated more than 15 photovoltaic arrays to FlaSEREF, which collaborated with FSEC to distribute the systems to schools throughout Florida through the EnergyWhiz program.”
Also featured were a solar boat demonstration and Exemplary Projects in Energy and Conservation (EPEC). These award-winning science fair projects produced by local students all had a renewable energy or conservation theme.
The Florida Solar Energy Center, a research institute of the University of Central Florida, is the largest and most active state-supported energy research center in the country. Current research activities include solar water and pool heating, solar electric and distributed generation systems, energy-efficient buildings, alternative transportation systems, hydrogen fuel and fuel cells. For more information, visit www.fsec.ucf.edu or call the FSEC Public Affairs Office at (321) 638-1015.
61 Junior Solar Sprint teams
10 Hydrogen Teams
7 Science Bowl – Hands-on Hydrogen Teams
4 Energy Innovations Teams
AND THE WINNERS ARE
Junior Solar Sprint winners:
1st – #33 – Mercurial Tiger, Tuskawilla Montessori Academy, Oviedo
2nd – #26 – Ra Reaper, St. James Cathedral School, Orlando
3rd – #51 Little Bandit, Lewis Carroll Elementary, Merritt Island
1st – #26 – Ra Reaper, St. James Cathedral School, Orlando
2nd – #8 – The Sunburn, Sacred Heart Catholic Homeschool, Merritt Island
3rd – #33 – Mercurial Tiger, Tuskawilla Montessori Academy, Oviedo
Race – 6th grade
1st – #34 – The King, Tuskawilla Montessori Academy, Oviedo
2nd – #39 – Eagle 1, Horizon Middle, Kissimmee
3rd – #50 – Da Bomb, Lewis Carroll Elementary, Merritt Island
Race – 7th grade
1st – #13 Solar Roller, Jupiter Middle School of Technology, Jupiter
2nd – #44 Minutemen III, Cocoa Beach Jr/Sr High School, Cocoa Beach
3rd – #54 Benchwarmers, Gulf Coast Academy of Science and Technology, Spring Hill
Race – 8th grade
1st – #32 God of War, Tuskawilla Montessori Academy, Oviedo
2nd – #7 Sunny, Warner Christian Academy, Daytona
3rd – #12 Nameless and Shameless, Jupiter Middle School of Technology, Jupiter
1st – #2 Absent Mindstein, Trinity Preparatory School, Winter Park
1st – #3 The Challenger, Ronald McNair Magnet Middle School, Cocoa
2nd – #4 Enigma Tuskawilla Montessori Academy, Oviedo
3rd – #2 Absent Mindstein, Trinity Preparatory School, Winter Park
1st – Overall – Three way tie –
#10 Pink Pandas, Cocoa Beach Jr/Sr High School, Cocoa Beach
#7 – Jupiter High School, Jupiter
#3 Catalyst, Lakewood High School, St. Petersburg
2nd Overall – #6 Sparklemotion, Indian River Charter High School, Vero Beach
3rd Overall – #2 Hydrogen Hotties, Lakewood High School, St. Petersburg
1st – Vehicle Performance – #3 Lakewood High School, St. Petersburg
1st – Presentation – #10, Pink Pandas – Cocoa Beach Jr/Sr High, Cocoa Beach
1st – Design – #7 – Jupiter High School, Jupiter
1st High School – Edgewood Jr/Sr High School, Merritt Island
2nd High School – Manatee Technical Institute, Bradenton
1st Middle School – Gulf Coast Academy of Science and Technology, Spring Hill
2nd Middle School – Ronald McNair Magnet School, Cocoa
Wow! Award – Gulf Coast Academy of Science and Technology, Spring Hill