Solar car competition ignites students interest in science and technology

The lack of sunshine didn't cloud the enthusiasm of Collie school kids who participated in the Synergy Solar Schools Challenge last Thursday, April 4.

More than 60 students from five local schools gathered at Collie Senior High School to test their skills and knowledge in the challenge which sees Year 6 and Year 8 students build and race solar-powered cars against other schools.

The overcast weather on the day saw the adoption of batteries to power the cars.

Teams from Amaroo Primary School and Collie Senior High School were the victors on the day and advanced through to this week's grand final at Perth's Optus Stadium.

The challenge is a joint initiative between Synergy and the Science Teachers Association of WA, and is designed specifically to address the comparatively low number of students choosing to study Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths subjects.

This year is the first time the program has held a dedicated heat in Collie.

Synergy chief executive officer Jason Waters said the challenge was a great way for students to get involved with STEM.

"The Synergy Schools Solar Challenge is an excellent way to motivate students in STEM subjects and teaches them basic engineering principles in a fun and interactive way," he said.

The Collie heat was one of eight events - three heats in the metro area, four regional events (Bunbury, Geraldton, Kalgoorlie and Collie) and the grand final at Optus stadium in Perth.

The local heat was a unique opportunity for Collie Senior High School to showcase their recently completed STEM rooms to future students.

Shire of Collie president Sarah Stanley and Collie Police senior sergeant Heath Soutar paid a special visit during the morning to witness the young engineering minds at work.

Muja Power Station apprentices Zach Diment and Nick Shaw were also on hand to provide advice throughout the heat.

Participating schools were resourced with standardised solar car kits and curriculum-linked support materials, enabling the students to build and race cars during the first term of the year.

On race day, students are given a standardised solar car kit to make their competition race car.

The challenge is how to use what they've learnt in class to fine-tune the components of the solar kit to get the best out of the car and solar panel.

Amaroo Primary School's winning team consisted of Johnathan Davis, Cael Emmett, Regan Moloney and Lucas Worlley; and Collie Senior High School's winning team was Rose Bolderson and Ebony Whitney.

For more competition information visit www.synergy.net.au.