EnergyWhiz Olympics on May 3 at the Florida Solar Energy Center

Cocoa, Fla. – Hundreds of students from more than 60 schools across Florida will participate in the sixth-annual EnergyWhiz Olympics at the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) in Cocoa. This year’s event will be held on Saturday, May 3, from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.

The EnergyWhiz Olympics, sponsored by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, highlights the science and engineering skills of middle school and high school students as they participate in activities related to the real-world issue of energy.

“This event provides students with a great opportunity to develop and show off their engineering skills and their knowledge of emerging energy concepts,” said Susan Schleith, project manager for the EnergyWhiz Olympics. “Each year we have more schools participating, and it’s great to know that students are taking a real interest in alternative energy.” Read more

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University of Florida Professor Wins Florida Energy Achievement Award

Dr. Ann C. Wilkie, associate professor at the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS), has been named winner of the third annual Florida Energy Achievement Award. The award, presented by the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC), recognizes a company, organization or individual that has made a significant achievement in the efficient utilization of energy, energy conservation, energy education or renewable energy in the state of Florida.

The FSEC award committee chose Wilkie for her extensive work in alternative energy -creating bio-energy from animal waste – and her leadership in promoting awareness and understanding of renewable energy and sustainable practices. Read more

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Lincoln Middle School Wins Academic Portion of Regional DOE National Science Bowl®

COCOA, Fla. – Lincoln Middle School, in Gainesville, Fla., is this year’s Southeastern regional winner of the academic portion of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Science Bowl® for middle school students. The event was held Saturday at the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC). The Lincoln “A” Team must now compete against seven other finalist teams from the region in the Hands-On Hydrogen competition, where they must demonstrate a functional fuel cell-powered model car, for a chance to represent Florida at the national finals in Golden, Colo., this summer. The hydrogen car competition will be held during the EnergyWhiz Olympics on May 3, 2008, at FSEC.

This year’s Lincoln “A” Team members are Matt Banks, Zadia Dupee, Rachel Keen, Rohit Singh, alternate David Liu, and coach, eighth grade science teacher, Roberta Harbrucker.

The morning started by awarding teams with candy for honors like “most creative uniforms” and “longest distance traveled”. Once the candy prizes ran out, the competition for the real prize began. During the first half of the competition, teams were given 20 seconds to discuss and decide on answers to multiple choice questions. This part of the competition ended in a “sudden death” showdown between two schools to determine who would take the final spot among the eight finalist teams continuing on in the competition.

The final eight teams were from Andrew Jackson Middle School in Titusville, Archimedean Middle Conservatory in Miami, Challenger K-8 School of Science and Math in Spring Hill, Lincoln Middle School in Gainesville, Professional Academies Magnet School in Gainesville, Ronald McNair Magnet School in Rockledge, St. Charles Borromeo in Orlando, and Trinity Preparatory School in Winter Park.

These eight teams attended an hour-long workshop where they learned how to construct and use hydrogen fuel cells. Using fuel cell kits provided by DOE and General Motors, each of the eight finalist teams must design, construct, and demonstrate a functional model car powered by the fuel cell at the EnergyWhiz Olympics.

After the fuel cell workshop and a relaxing lunch break, it was time for the double elimination round. In this fast-paced portion of the event, each team relied on its individual members to quickly buzz-in and answer questions correctly without consulting their teammates. Hours of intense academic competition passed before Lincoln Middle School was announced the winner. Read more

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Florida Solar Energy Center Director, Dr. James Fenton, Recipient of 2008 UCF Award for Excellence in Distinguished Research

Cocoa, Fla. – Dr. James Fenton, director of the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) and recognized expert in electrochemical engineering, received this year’s University of Central Florida Award for Excellence in Distinguished Research. This honor is awarded to researchers whose work has created an impact within their discipline and in society. Their work is recognized by research peers, has been published and presented on numerous occasions, and provides external grant and contract support for the research.

Fenton has led his team in a wide variety of hydrogen research activities, although he specializes in fuel cell applications. Fenton’s award-winning work focuses on the research and development of proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells. PEM fuel cells transform chemical energy released during the electrochemical reaction of hydrogen and oxygen to electrical energy, rather than producing mechanical energy as current internal combustion engines do. While PEM fuel cells are being developed primarily for the next-generation automobile engine, they are also being developed as sources for portable power and emergency backup power applications. Read more

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