2010 Solar Vehicle Challenge

28 October, 2010

Solar vehicles compete at Scienceworks
Scienceworks Arena transformed for the solar vehicle challenge.
Source: Museum Victoria

Wild weather couldn’t stop the 2010 Victorian Model Solar Vehicle Challenge held at Scienceworks on Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 October.

This competition, now in its 18th year, brings teams of school students from all over Victoria together to race solar powered model cars and boats that they have designed, built and tested throughout the year. The two-day event allows participants to discover who is ‘fastest under the sun’.

Despite warnings of fierce weather that did not bode well for a solar-powered event, nearly 400 students accompanied by their parents and teachers turned up on the blustery Saturday morning to compete.  The students compete in a number of different divisions – primary school teams start their model solar education building junior boats, while the more complex cars and advanced boats are almost exclusively the realm of secondary school students. Teams spend several months building their vehicles, working with science and technology teachers, parents and lab techicians.

The patchy conditions and rain over the weekend led to some accidents, as cars that had been tweaked to deal with very low levels of sunlight found it hard to maintain a solid grip on the slippery track and had difficulty cornering when the sun emerged from the clouds. In the pool it was a completely different story, with the wet conditions causing no effect whatsoever on the running of the boats.

At the end of the day ‘NWR’ from Canterbury Girls’ Secondary College took out the car races in a very tight match against Melbourne Grammar School’s ‘The Blob Machine’. While the Canterbury Girls’ car was faster, it lost the first two races of the five-race final after leaving the track around the curves. Cloudier conditions in the final three races caused the car to slow down a little and maintain its hold on the track. Birmingham Primary School’s ‘Border Control’ won the Junior Boats category while Benalla College took out the Advanced Boats category with ‘Black Magic II’.

The top competitors in each category receive invitations and sponsorships to attend the national championship in Western Australia in November. 

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