|SPRINGFIELD - On June 8, hundreds of middle school students from across the Northeast will converge on the Springfield Museums Quadrangle to compete in the eleventh annual Northeast Regional Junior Solar Sprint model solar car competition. Racing begins at 10 a.m. and the public is invited.|
Every year, the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA) invites top winners from local Sprint races across the Northeast to compete at the regional championship. This year, NESEA has invited racers from 20 area races.
Teams compete for top awards in Innovation, Craftsmanship, Technical Merit and Speed. In addition to all usual speedsters last year's regional competition saw several uniquely designed cars including a patriotic bird, a miniature soccer field, a campsite and a sneaker on wheels.
One well-deserving team will be honored as the Grand Champion, while another will win the hearts of their peers and earn the Kid's Choice award. Special recognition will also be awarded to Best Reuse of Materials and Artistic Merit. NESEA honors all competing students for the work they have put into their solar cars and each student receives a free lunch and a keepsake T-shirt. The event will include food for sale as well as renewable energy exhibits.
The Junior Solar Sprint is a highly engaging kids' science and engineering project that was originally started by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in the early 1990s. Largely through the energy of grassroots volunteer effort and dedicated educators, the project has grown each year and over 100,000 kids have taken part in the program.
Teachers and other adult mentors guide teams of students through the project as students learn principles of physics and engineering; explore environmental topics such as global climate change; and design pollution-free model cars powered solely by the sun.
A special addition to the Junior Solar Sprint program that educators can take advantage of is NESEA's Clean Energy for a Clean Environment. Two educator guides, "Clean Green Power" and "Wind Wisdom," are available for free download on the NESEA Web site. These guides provide educators with hands-on science activities in renewable energy and include destination sites and valuable resources.
The Northeast Sustainable Energy Association hosts the Championship and also offers teacher and mentor workshops, as well as support for area event coordinators in the Northeastern U.S. through funding by the U.S. Army.
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