Renewable Energy Student Teams Energized Even on a Cloudy Day

COCOA, May 09, 2013— With clouds in the sky and all eyes on the weather, more than 600 elementary, middle and high school students were energized on Saturday, May 4th. Student teams—from Key West to as far away as North Carolina—gathered at UCF’s Florida Solar Energy Center on Saturday to demonstrate their Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM) skills by competing at the 11th annual EnergyWhiz Olympics.

Cocoa Mayor Henry Parrish III speaks into megaphone.

Cocoa Mayor Henry Parrish III welcomes crowd to EnergyWhiz Olympics.

The daylong event started out cloudy and posed challenges to the solar-dependent competitions, especially the Bright House Solar Energy Cook-off and the Junior Solar Sprint (solar-powered model car) teams. Although weather conditions were less than ideal, the sun managed to peek through the clouds and provide just enough energy for the teams to get through the solar competitions. And although Energy Innovations, a full-scale solar electric design and marketing challenge, depend on the sun for their complete product demonstration, teams also created marketing pieces—such as brochures, fliers, and posters—to promote their product.

Judges talking to students around full-size photovoltaic panel.

Judges discuss Energy Innovations project, "Sunfisher," with Edgewood Jr/Sr High team.

Fortunately, the rain held off until later in the day, allowing the Battery Assisted Transport (B.A.T.) Mobile, model-size electric cars, and the Electrathon, go-cart size electric cars, to compete without incident.

The Hydrogen Challenge, located indoors, attracted a large audience as students demonstrated their understanding of energy transfers through a custom-built Rube Goldberg-type apparatus. “The phenomenally creative and intricate contraptions were a challenge to judge,” said Eric Hoepnner, former middle school science teacher. Built with a hydrogen fuel cell in one of the steps, the timed machines were judged on accuracy, innovation, complexity, technical sophistication, and their use of fuel cell technology. Nearly doubling in size from last year, this event is expected to have even more participants next year. “There’s a huge coolness factor with this event,” Hoeppner added.

Students knelt down on yellow track watching model electric cars race side-by-side while crowd watches.

Students race their B.A.T. Mobiles

These hands-on renewable energy competitions expose students to alternative energy fuel sources and encourage scientific know-how, creative thinking, experimentation and teamwork.

Susan Schleith, energy education director at FSEC says, “As our event continues to grow each year, my goal is to establish regional events around the state, with the ultimate competition taking place at FSEC. This would allow even more students to participate, and create a broadened awareness statewide. Tight school budgets and travel costs provide challenges that some student teams just can’t overcome.”

This year’s winners are:

B.A.T. (Battery Assisted Transport) Mobile Challenge

1st Place Race:  Race Girls, Edgewood Jr/Sr High, Merritt Island

2nd Place Race:  Millennium Panther, Lewis E. Wadsworth Elementary, Palm Coast

3rd Place Race:  Salt & Pepper, Edgewood Jr/Sr High, Merritt Island

 

1st Place Design :  Race Girls, Edgewood Jr/Sr High, Merritt Island

2nd Place Design:  Millennium Panther, Lewis E. Wadsworth Elementary, Palm Coast

3rd Place Design:  The Anaxagoras, Montessori World Academy, Orlando

 

Energy Innovations

Middle Division

1st Place Design:  Sunny Circus Snacks, Edgewood Jr/Sr High, Merritt Island

2nd Place Design:  Urban Garden, Howard Middle, Orlando

3rd Place Design:  Cooking Device, Hidden Oaks Middle, Palm City

 

High School Division

1st Place Design:  The Sunfisher, Edgewood Jr/Sr High, Merritt Island

2nd Place Design:  Suk-A-Poop, Island Coast High, Cape Coral

3rd Place Design:  Solar Bike, Dunbar High, Fort Myers

 

All Divisions

WOW! Award:  The Sunfisher, Edgewood Jr/Sr High, Merritt Island

 

Hydrogen Challenge

Middle Division

1st Place:  The Flying Fish, Stewart Middle, Tampa

2nd Place:  The Kit Kats, Lake Nona Middle, Orlando

3rd Place:  Child’s Play, Gifford Middle, Vero Beach

Most Accurate:  N.E.R.D.S. – New Energy Regeneration Device, Gulf Coast Academy, Spring Hill

 

High School Division

1st Place:  Tiger Engineering, Dunbar High, Fort Myers

2nd Place:  The Domino Theory, Edgewood Jr/ Sr High, Merritt Island

3rd Place:  Race Girls, Edgewood Jr/Sr High, Merritt Island

Most Accurate:  Race Girls, Edgewood Jr/Sr High, Merritt Island


All Divisions

WOW! Award:  The Flying Fish, Stewart Middle, Tampa

 

Junior Solar Sprint

Elementary Division    

1st Place Race:  The Silver Streak, Pine View School, Osprey

2nd Place Race:  The Mock Five, Triangle Math & Science, Raleigh, NC

3rd Place Race:  Solar Surfers, Hidden Oaks Middle, Palm City

 

Middle Division

1st Place Race:  Vibot 3, McLane Middle, Brandon

2nd Place Race:  OLL Rockets, Our Lake of Lourdes Catholic, Melbourne

3rd Place Race:  Vibot 2, McLane Middle, Brandon

 

Overall Awards

1st Place Design:  Vibot 1, Brandon Engineering Academy, Brandon

2nd Place Design:  Solar Surfers, Hidden Oaks Middle, Palm City

3rd Place Design:  Shorthorn Strikers, Harmony Community School, Harmony

 

1st Place Most Innovative:  Pride All Stars, Lake Nona Middle, Orlando

2nd Place Most Innovative:  Solar Racers, Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic, Melbourne

3rd Place Most Innovative:  Vibot 3, McLane Middle, Brandon

 

Brighthouse Solar Energy Cook-Off

Elementary Division

1st Place Design:  May The 4th Be With You, Lawton Chiles Elementary, Tampa

2nd Place Design:  Sunny Sisters, St. Martha Catholic, Sarasota

3rd Place Design:  Team Nemo, Martinez Middle, Lutz

 

1st Place Culinary:  Solar Buddies, Hidden Oaks Middle, Palm City

2nd Place Culinary:  Something’s Fishy, Gardendale Elementary, Merritt Island

3rd Place Culinary:  The Solar Flares, Ocean Breeze Elementary, Indian Harbor Beach

WOW! Award:  Seuss Chefs, Lewis Carroll Elementary, Merritt Island

 

Middle Division

1st Place Design:  Milwee 1, Milwee Middle, Longwood

2nd Place Design:  Spectrum, L.A. Ainger Middle, Rotonda West

3rd Place Design:  The Neon Narwhals, Stewart Middle, Tampa

 

1st Place Culinary:  G.E.M.S., Girl Scout Troop 30027, Stuart

2nd Place Culinary:  The Hobbit Party, L.A. Ainger, Rotonda West

3rd Place Culinary:  Milwee 2, Milwee Middle, Longwood

WOW! Award:  Solar Sorcerers, Edgewood Jr/Sr High, Merritt Island

 

High School Division

1st Place Design:  Solar Tree Café, Edgewood Jr/Sr High, Merritt Island

2nd Place Design:  UV Gators, Island Coast High, Cape Coral

3rd Place Design:  Tiger Engineering, Dunbar High, Fort Myers

 

1st Place Culinary:  Solar Tree Café, Edgewood Jr/Sr High, Merritt Island High

2nd Place Culinary:  Solar Apes 1, Pine Ridge High, Deltona

3rd Place Culinary:  Solar Burst, T.DeWitt Taylor, Pierson

WOW! Award:  UV Gators, Island Coast High, Cape Coral

 

For more information, visit

http://www.fsec.ucf.edu/en/education/k-12/energywhiz_olympics/index.htm, or watch a video about the EnergyWhiz Olympics at http://vimeo.com/9522310.

 

CONTACTS:

Susan Schleith, Director Energy Education, 321-638-1017 or susan@fsec.ucf.edu

Sherri Shields, Asst. Director Communications, 321-638-1019 or sherri@fsec.ucf.edu

 

About FSEC: The Florida Solar Energy Center, a research institute of the University of Central Florida, is the largest and most active state-supported energy research institute in the nation. Current divisions and their research activities include Advanced Energy Research: alternative transportation systems, hydrogen fuel and fuel cells; Buildings Research: energy-efficient buildings; and Solar Energy: solar water and pool heating, and solar electric and distributed generation systems. For more information about the center, visit http://www.floridaenergycenter.org or call the FSEC Public Affairs Office at 321-638-1015.

UCF Stands For Opportunity: The University of Central Florida is a metropolitan research university that ranks as the 2nd largest in the nation with more than 59,000 students. UCF’s first classes were offered in 1968. The university offers impressive academic and research environments that power the region’s economic development. UCF’s culture of opportunity is driven by our diversity, Orlando environment, history of entrepreneurship and our youth, relevance and energy. For more information, visit http://news.ucf.edu.

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