The Junior Solar Sprint for Kids

When I recently posted about a program called KidWind being used to help educate kids across the country about the benefits of wind power, I received a number of responses from readers about the benefits of another kid-centered program called the Junior Solar Sprint and decided to do some research. Turns out it was just in time, as the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA) is beginning to gear up for this springs racing season with teacher workshops in both February and March. The Junior Solar Sprint encourages kids at the middle school level to work together in teams that create race cars that run on solar energy so they can learn and have fun while meeting state educational standards at the same time. Once they've been designed and constructed, the cars are then pitted against one another in races across the northeast as they work their way up to the level of Grand Champion. How to be one? Well, first you've got to have a teacher who is passionate enough about solar energy to engage their classes in the program, and then you'd better work really hard to come up with a dynamic design that can win on its speed, innovativeness, overall craftsmanship or even for being judged the finest technically-designed model solar car in contention So how might teachers from a wide array of subject areas see their classes benefit from being involved in the program? Well, while the focus is clearly on solar energy, the NESEA is quick to point out that the Junior Solar Sprint is also a great tool to teach kids about engineering design, teamwork, problem solving, and even global warming. As Eric Martin, the 2006 JSS Grand Champ realizes, "It is another way you can get transportation without having carbon dioxide". And in light of the recent IPCC report on global warming, the next thing we might consider asking our own students is "Hey, Want to race?"