Over the last twenty two years tens of thousands of Australian high school and primary students have participated in this hands-on science program.
The competitive spirit is an effective motivator and science, engineering and design & technology teachers all over Australia have classes filled with extraordinarily enthusiastic students building model solar cars and boats. Not only is the learning fun but the learning outcomes are tremendous.
It may be surprising but winning the national competition doesn’t mean that you had the fastest or best model solar car on the day. Each team is interviewed and is given points for the answers to science based questions illustrating the team’s understanding of how solar cells work, how motors sturn electricity into motion and why and how gears are used. The team is then interviewed regarding the merits and trade-offs of their design.
A poster describing the team’s work is also scored. At the end of the event these points are added to points given for the car’s performance in the race and the winning team is the one with the most points.