Two solar cars racing on the track in the Australian International Model Solar Challenge at Scienceworks, 29 November 2009.
Source: Museum Victoria
A visiting group of students from Iran and the Aurora Solar Car were among the highlights of this year’s Australian International Model Solar Challenge held 28-29 November at Scienceworks.
This competition, now in its seventeenth year, brings teams of school students from all over Australia and overseas 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’.
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 is almost exclusively the realm of secondary school students. Teams spend up to six months building their vehicles, working with science and technology teachers, parents and lab techs. However, some students worked within much shorter timeframes, as Ali Tabatabaei from Sheikh Ansari High School in Iran revealed.
“Three days. We arrived in Melbourne on Wednesday and finished building on Friday” was his response when asked how long they had spent building their car, ‘Persia’. The regulations and design of the track used in this weekend’s event meant that the vehicle they had built for the Iranian competition would not be suitable – so, with some help from the staff at Box Hill High School the two students from Isfahan built a car from scratch that they were “very happy with” in record time.
The patchy conditions and rain on Sunday 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 corners 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 ‘Stealth’ from Moorebank High School (NSW) emerged victorious in the car division, while ‘Rose’ from Thabeban State School (QLD) took out the junior boat trophy and ‘Batteries Not Included’ from Queensland Academy of Science Maths and Technology finished first in the advanced boats. Box Hill High School’s ‘Killswitch’, which received second place at this year’s Victorian event (held at Scienceworks in October), was the highest placed Victorian car in second spot – an amazing achievement considering the spectacular amount of damage it took during a crash in the quarter finals and the near-total rebuild that occurred over the hour-long lunch break.