UNION COUNTY — A derby involving solar-powered cars will be a highlight of the Parents Expo this morning during the final day of a science summer camp at Sims Middle School.
The Union County School District is holding its Gifted and Talented Young Scientists Summer Camp at Sims Middle School from 8 a.m.-noon each morning this week through today. The students enrolled in the camp are in grades three through seven in the county elementary and middle schools and all are in the Gifted and Talented program.
The goal of the camp is to help students understand the different sources of energy and how they are transformed into electricity. To help the students achieve that understanding, the camp has involved them in a number of energy-related activities including, on Monday, building solar-powered cars.
On Wednesday, the students continued that work, making the final modifications to their cars in preparation for this morning’s Parents Expo. The Expo, which will conclude the science summer camp, will feature a Solar Derby in which the students will race the cars they’ve built.
The students, who were divided into groups of five to work collaboratively on their solar-powered cars, spent much of the morning making their modifications in preparation for testing the vehicles. The camp moved from the Sims cafeteria to the outside where, as they continued to work on their vehicles, the groups of students waited for the sun to come out from behind the clouds so their cars could get maximum power.
As soon as the clouds cleared and the sun shined down on them at full strength, the students placed their cars on the starting line, holding their back wheels just off the ground to make sure they didn’t take off before it was time for the test races to start. When the word was given, however, the students let down their cars which took off, heading across the cement floor toward the opposite wall.
Some of the cars got further than others but all took off, using the power of the sun to travel as far as they could. The ones who got closest to the wall opposite from where the students were watching found themselves in the shade cast by that side of the building and came to a halt.
Work continued on the cars with students continuing to make modifications, in some case with the help of their teachers.
Both students and teachers alike are looking forward today’s expo during which the students will make presentations on what they’ve learning from the week’s activities.
Those activities included an experiment in solar imaging; experiments in how energy is created via chemical reactions; making bracelets out of solar beads; and visiting the Lockhart Power hydro-electric plant to learn how water is used to generate electricity.