The roller slammed into a track barrier, built by solar mounting systems supplier Unirac, and its rear wheels jumped-up from the course. Nothing was damaged during that crash or a dozen or so subsequent ones, but the impacts elicited a few “aahs.”
“It’s just they go so epically fast, how do you not crash?” Slater asked, without overstating the speed. In a good straightaway, solar rollers can reach 28 mph.
Their car was mangled after a competitor crashed into them and they were 40 laps down, working feverishly to get back on the track as other teams’ remote control solar race cars sped past.
And that’s when they had their MacGyver moment.
They replaced a non-replaceable broken king pin with the top of a drill bit and the spring from an ink pen.
“These brave students, teachers and team leaders from the community have really jumped in with both feet to learn about energy here. The effort they’ve put into strategizing, tinkering, experimenting, testing and refining has to be commended. They are already victors at the starting line.” said Davis.
“The idea is that adults have not been very successful with solving energy problems,” he said, “So let’s give young people the tools they need to make changes as they enter the workforce and become consumers.” Solar Rollers teaches kids how energy systems work because, he explained, energy use is the most important human interaction with the planet. “It’s so easy to convince yourself that you’re maintaining an interaction with the planet by hiking up Castle Creek but it’s also about energy use in your car or in your home,” he explained.
Racing is not just about number-crunching engineering. It's about creativity and testing what can and cannot be done in the real world.
Solar Rollers will be running a special exhibit racetrack at the Intersolar conference and meeting with sponsors and supporters in the bay area.
The Aspen Science Center intends to turn the old Aspen Art Museum into a world class STEM discovery center - working with other area nonprofits like Energetics Education. Please sign the online petition if you live in the area and you happen to know a kid that likes liquid nitrogen ice cream parties!
Solar Rollers will be at the Circuit of the Americas outside Austin Texas to run a demonstration race as part of the Formula Sun Grand Prix/American Solar Challenge event. The demo race will be run at solar noon on July 19 - the final day of the Formula Sun Grand Prix and the public day at the track.