Florida students have creative ideas for solving some of our world’s greatest energy challenges, and their renewable energy solutions were demonstrated at the EnergyWhiz Olympics – a series of day-long activities dedicated to students with an interest in alternative fuel technologies.
Nearly 700 students throughout Florida converged at the University of Central Florida’s Florida Solar Energy Center in Cocoa on Saturday, May 9, 2009 to compete in the seventh-annual EnergyWhiz Olympics. Events included the new Bright House Solar Energy Cookoff, a solar cooker and cooking contest; the Junior Solar Sprint, model-size solar car races; the High School Hydrogen Sprint, model-size hydrogen fuel cell car races; and Energy Innovations, a full-scale solar electric design challenge.
“The EnergyWhiz Olympics grows a little each year, and this year’s event is the biggest ever. It’s exciting to see so many students learning about renewable energy and sharing their experiences,” said Susan Schleith, education coordinator at FSEC.
The newly-added Bright House Solar Energy Cookoff challenged students to design and build solar cookers, and also design and cook a recipe of their own creation in their oven. Student creativity and engineering skills illuminated in the solar oven designs. One solar cooker was made using an old water heater, while another used a traditional grill, but “fueled” it by using a lens from an old projection TV, intensifying the sun’s heat. The students’ culinary talents were also put to the test, and their dishes were judged on taste, ingredients and creativity; one team was even more creative and serenaded the judges while they were taste-testing.
The Energy Innovations program is a full-scale solar electric design and marketing challenge for middle and high school students. Each participating team designed and constructed a product or artistic work fully powered by photovoltaic (PV) panels, also called solar electricity, provided by BP. Teams also created marketing pieces, such as brochures, fliers, and posters, to accompany their products.
One of the most popular events each year is the Junior Solar Sprint (JSS), where students design, construct and race solar-powered vehicles. This hands-on competition, for middle school students in sixth through eighth grade, encourages scientific know-how, creative thinking, experimentation and teamwork. Awards were given based on vehicle design, quality of craftsmanship, innovation and vehicle speed. This year nearly 50 teams competed for the awards.
The Hydrogen Sprint, a competition for high school students in grades 9-12, allows students to design, build and race model-sized hydrogen fuel cells cars. This competition exposes students to hydrogen’s potential as an alternative fuel source and also gives graduates of the Junior Solar Sprint program an opportunity to continue designing and building alternative-fueled vehicles. Participating teams also give a 10-minute presentation on any aspect of hydrogen they learned about while creating their vehicle. The winner of this event ran 20 meters in just 5.16 seconds – the fastest time recorded among middle and high school students in the last two years.
Results of the competitions are listed below:
6th Grade Junior Solar Sprint
- 1st place: Kanapaha Middle, Gainesville (Bam)
- 2nd place: New School Preparatory, Orlando (Care Car)
- 3rd place: South Seminole Middle, Casselberry (The Arrowhead)
7th Grade Junior Solar Sprint
- 1st place: Jupiter Middle, Jupiter (Mach 4)
- 2nd place: Edgewood Jr./Sr., Merritt Island (Screaming Red Ants)
- 3rd place: South Seminole Middle, Casselberry (World Traveler)
8th Grade Junior Solar Sprint
- 1st place: Hidden Oaks Middle, Palm City (The Flying Pig)
- 2nd place: South Seminole Middle, Casselberry (El Taco)
- 3rd place: Lockhart Middle, Orlando (Starlite Drive)
Overall Junior Solar Sprint
- Most Innovative Vehicle 1st place: Jupiter Middle, Jupiter (The Car Men)
- Most Innovative Vehicle 2nd place: McLane Middle, Brandon (Vibot 3)
- Most Innovative Vehicle 3rd place: Conway Middle, Orlando (The Silver Dawg)
- Best Design 1st place: McLane Middle, Brandon (Vibot 3)
- Best Design 2nd place: Jupiter Middle, Jupiter (The Car Men)
- Best Design 3rd place: Conway Middle, Orlando (Glitter Gadget)
- 1st place Vehicle Performance: Edgewood Jr./Sr. High, Merritt Island (M-Jop III)
- 1st place Hydrogen Presentation: Edgewood Jr./Sr. High, Merritt Island (Racegirls)
- 1st place Vehicle Design: Olympia High, Orlando (Titan I Rocket)
- Overall 1st place: Edgewood Jr./Sr. High, Merritt Island (Racegirls)
- Overall 2nd place: Edgewood Jr./Sr. High, Merritt Island (M-Jop III)
- Overall 3rd place: Olympic High, Orlando (Titan I Rocket)
- 1st place Middle School Division: South Seminole Middle, Casselberry (The Amazing Squirt)
- 1st place High School Division: Olympia High, Orlando (S.T.E.M.S. – portable power station)
- 2nd place High School: Bayside High, Palm Bay (Solar Charged Electric Car)
- 3rd place High School: South Plantation High, Plantation (Preparation H – solar hydroponics)
- WOW! Award (most creative and artistic): Tie, South Seminole Middle, Casselberry (The Amazing Squirt) and Edgewood Jr./Sr. High, Merritt Island (Solar Powered Projection)
Bright House Solar Energy Cookoff
- Elementary 1st Best Design: Gardendale Elementary, Merritt Island
(Sky is the Limit)
- Elementary 2nd Best Design: St. Martha Catholic School, Sarasota
- Elementary 3rd Best Design: St. Martha Catholic School, Sarasota
- Elementary 1st Solar Cooking: New School Preparatory, Orlando
- Elementary 2nd Solar Cooking: Gardendale Elementary, Merritt Island
(Sky is the Limit)
- Elementary 3rd Solar Cooking: Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy, Melbourne (Rocking Crazy Wolfs)
- Middle School 1st Best Design: South Seminole Middle, Casselberry
(The Spice is Right)
- Middle School 2nd Best Design: James Madison Middle, Titusville
- Middle School 3rd Best Design: James Madison Middle, Titusville
- Middle School 1st Solar Cooking: Stewart Middle Magnet, Tampa
- Middle School 2nd Solar Cooking: James Madison Middle, Titusville
- Middle School 3rd Solar Cooking: James Madison Middle, Titusville
For more information about this and other K-12 educational events, contact Susan Schleith at firstname.lastname@example.org or 321-638-1017.
Link to Florida Solar Energy Center’s photo gallery:
Link to FLORIDA TODAY story:
Link to FLORIDA TODAY photo gallery: http://www.floridatoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/gallery?Site=A9&Date=20090509&Category=NEWS01&ArtN o=509026&Ref=PH&Params=Itemnr=1