Colorado students competing in the Solar Rollers energy education program came to race in Carbondale on May 16, but most events were rained out on that wintry day. The teams more than made up for it by running a second competition this Saturday, May 30, at Bighorn Toyota in Glenwood Springs under crystal clear skies. The cars were very quick under intense sun and two of them even lifted off the ground during top speed runs, doing hydroplane-style backflips at top speed.
The Solar Rollers program works with high school teams to design, build and race sophisticated solar-powered remote control cars. Students gain practical experience with solar circuits, lithium batteries, carbon fiber, brushless electric motors, programmable controllers and constant hands-on mechanical work.
The Trophy Race at the end of the year brings area Solar Rollers teams together in friendly competition, where they help one another with technical issues and celebrate their remarkable accomplishments - while engaging in plenty of spirited wheel-to-wheel racing on the track.
Area schools that participated in Solar Rollers this year include Aspen, Basalt, Battle Mountain, Glenwood Springs, Grand Valley, Roaring Fork, Summit and Yampah Mountain High Schools – some schools fielded multiple teams. The Solar Rollers program could not happen without the dedication of the teachers, team leaders and students who find the time, space, tools, funding and perseverance to complete this very challenging project.
Solar Rollers is a program of Carbondale-based Energetics Education. It is designed to scale nationally and is currently expanding to Austin and Reno.