Abundant sunshine poured down on Perelman Plaza Saturday morning as if in direct support of students racing their solar-powered cars in the 26th Annual 2019 Junior Solar Sprint, a national education event for junior high students sponsored by Drexel University and the Philadelphia Solar Energy Association (PSEA).
More than 150 students, teachers, and parents from 10 regional school districts participated in the annual show of nascent engineering skill. To compete, fifth- through eighth-grade students conceptualized, built, and raced model solar-powered cars in an event that has come to signify springtime on Drexel’s campus.
Middle schoolers learn about the application of engineering and technology as they work through basic systems of circuitry, battery storage, physics and photovoltaics, and teamwork, as well as learning how to troubleshoot problems on-the-fly as they compete in four categories and best overall team.
This year, the best overall award went to Car #52, the E.M. Stanton Team Effort.
Drexel and the College of Engineering participate in the event as part of an ongoing commitment to foster STEM education in Philadelphia. Other activities through the year include Philly Materials Science Day, Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day, and STEM University for Girls.
Undergraduates from the Drexel chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AICHE) and members of the Drexel Electric Vehicle Team were on-hand as volunteers.
“The Junior Solar Sprint was a great success. We had perfect weather and a good turnout,” said Dr. Jason Baxter, professor in the College of Engineering Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering (CBE).
“The longtime organizers, the Philadelphia Solar Energy Association, all agreed that this was the best location in their 26 years running the event,” added Baxter. “PSEA and the Drexel hosts agree that this is a great partnership, and we hope it continues for many years to come.”
Awards were given in four categories. First-place winners include:
- Artistic Merit: “Pastry Chef,” Souderton Charter Team – Anya Patel, Anna Brecker, and Eva Bennett
- Sustainability: “Kenneth Applewood,” Cedarbrook Team – Mina Rothberg, Maris Raisch, and Andrew Marcus
- Technical Merit: “Vindictive Ludwig,” Wyndcroft Team – Lucy Figg, Diemmy Dang, and Joe Smolizza
- Speed: “Raven,” E.M. Stanton Team – Jordyn Madden and Raphael Hoang
- Best Overall: Car #52, E.M. Stanton Team Effort