Great Solar/Hybrid Car Challenge
Since 2006, KidTech’s lead activity each year is the Great Solar Car Challenge. KidTech provides a kit of solar car parts (30 sq. in. solar panel, wheels, plastic gears, small DC motor, 9V battery) to middle schools in Centre County. Each spring, KidTech volunteers and teachers work with the students to design, build, and test a small car — generally less than 8 oz. in weight. Students and teachers gather in May for the Great Solar Car Event, where student can race their cars in multiple events like fastest car, straightest car, hill climb, etc. The solar cars run on either the 9 V batteries (if it is cloudy) or the 12 V solar panels (if it’s sunny). Typically, we have over 150 students building cars each spring, and approximately 90 students (30 teams) participating on Race Day in May. During initial design stages, middle school students have the opportunity to meet with Penn State engineering students in the Engineering Ambassador’s program to learn more about good design approaches. Funding for the Great Solar Car Challenge comes from the Kards for Kids Charity Poker Tournament.
Building a winning solar/hybrid car is not a simple task: it involves a mix of wise selections for gear ratio + wheel diameter and careful building technique. Here are some resources provided to middle school teachers and students on the Great Solar Car program:
Great Engineering Exploration (GEE) Grants
The Great Engineering Exploration (GEE) program provides funding to innovative, creative teachers to develop, pilot and share active-learning projects that expose youth to engineering concepts. KidTech wants to help teachers make their innovative curriculum ideas become reality. For an example of a funded GEE project, go to http://gantdaily.com/2011/06/12/p-o-students-launch-weather-balloon-as-part-of-class-project/
The GEE application process is simple: just follow the RFP guidelines
. The GEE Grant provides teachers with a $500 no-payback grant to help purchase materials, equipment or cover travel costs. Apply today!
Frazier Foundation Grant
KidTech also was awarded a grant in Summer 2013 from the Frazier Foundation to work with local organizations to develop and deliver an outdoor exploration event, where students use traditional methods (maps, compass, landmarks) to navigate a course, as well as high-tech methods (GPS geocaching). More information coming…