Energized Students Infectious at Statewide Renewable Energy Competition

COCOA, June 5, 2017—Nearly 50 schools across Florida—from Key West and Tallahassee—participated in this year’s EnergyWhiz competition last month at the University of Central Florida’s Florida Solar Energy Center.

More than 115 teams, which included nearly 500 students, prepared their projects for competition: model-sized solar cars for the Junior Solar Sprint (JSS), solar ovens for the Cook-off, full-scale photovoltaic panels for Energy Innovations, energy-efficient animal homes for the Critter Comfort Cottage competition, and go-cart-sized electric cars for the Electrathon.

In the longest running event, JSS, cars underwent inspection, design judging, time-trials, and new this year, team interviews. “Questions from judges may sometimes be intimidating, but interviews give students the opportunity to shine when they’ve put their heart and soul into a project,” said Guytri Still, JSS lead design judge and former middle school science teacher.

Long table with students on one side, inspectors on other side. JSS car being weighed in.

Junior Solar Sprint cars are inspected and weighed. Credit: Selina Black

South Sumter Middle school student, Lauren Pike of Junior Solar Sprint Team Lightning McQueen, explained how her sixth grade science project on paper airplanes helped her decide how to best position the solar panel on the car aerodynamically. Spencer Aramburu-Perkins from Passport Charter in Orlando explained how she changed her JSS car chassis design from last year, and how she discovered at another race that she needed to reverse the polarity of the motor to make the car go in a different direction than she had it initially set up for.

Two JSS cars finish within inches at finish line of race on yellow track.

Junior Solar Sprint cars in photo finish. Credit: Liza Robles

Weather is always a factor when using solar, and in the final races of Junior Solar Sprint the clouds moved in, but fortunately students were able to easily switch from solar to battery backup to finish the races.

“Sun is an equal opportunity energy source, which means teams compete under the same conditions, but overcast skies often create race delays. If the clouds create too much interference, we switch to batteries, which is another valuable engineering lesson for students,” said Susan Schleith, K-12 energy education director at FSEC.

This year’s EnergyWhiz Electrathon set a new record for organizer Electrathon of Tampa Bay with the number of cars participating at 19.  The go-cart electric vehicles needed to make as many laps around the 1500-foot track as they could in one hour. “This course was challenging and unique with a great mix of high school, postsecondary and open class teams participating. Many of the attendees who watched the races were excited and curious about how they could build their own Electrathon vehicle. We can’t wait for next year’s event!,” said Freddi Beck of Electrathon America.

Six electrathon cars shown racing on parking lot track.

Electrathon cars race at EnergyWhiz. Credit: Kaileen Schleith

Shining stars in the Energy Innovations event were eighth grade future engineers from Howard Middle School Academy for Visual and Performing Arts. The Cerebral Palsy Playground (CP-PG) was designed for children with Cerebral Palsy to improve their fine motor skills while still having fun. The CP-PG is solar powered, safe, and can lead to hours of play. It is made up of different tactile activities, including large, different shaped puzzle pieces with suction cups, a Velcro dartboard, different colored push-button light switches, and even a bubble blower. Great measures were taken to ensure the design’s safety, including evaluated by someone experienced in working with Cerebral Palsy kids.

Father and daughter listen to Howard Middle School team member explain how project works. Solar panel on top of rectangular box, raised with legs, in which soft dart board and suction cup puzzle pieces are incorporated.

Howard Middle School team member explains to EnergyWhiz attendees how the Cerebral Palsy Playground works. Credit: Sherri Shields

One of three team members, Leyton Elliott, said he learned a lot about Cerebral Palsy while doing this project and realized that “Everything matters in engineering.”

As a student of teacher Eric Yuhdsz for three years, Elliott explained Yuhdsz’s philosophy, “Everybody doesn’t have to be an engineer, he just wants everyone to think like one.”

Last year in teacher Yuhdsz’s 3D Design and Modeling class, students worked on leg braces for kids with Cerebral Palsy, since they walk on their toes. His team needed a project for this year’s EnergyWhiz competition and decided to find another way to help them.

Teacher Yuhdsz says typical eighth graders are biologically wired to think about themselves. These students, however, are quite the opposite.

“EnergyWhiz is the most authentic learning there is. I wish there were more events like this,” added Yuhdsz

A parent commented about EnergyWhiz, “It was amazing to see so many bright young students with their inventions, and their enthusiasm was quite infectious. The whole project has captured Connor’s attention and the many exciting things to see and experience at the competition itself has him thinking about sustainable energy and being someone committed to making a difference. The importance of both is hard to quantify.”

The sucess of EnergyWhiz is dependent on volunteers and sponsors. This year’s sponsors include: FPL, Duke Energy, Publix Super Market Charities, Airport Chrysler Dodge Jeep, American Muscle Car Museum, Central Florida Clean Cities Coalition, Smart Electric Power Alliance, ESA Renewables, LifeStyle Homes, and Solar Ray.

Sign. Thank you 2017 EnergyWhiz Sponsors. Logos: FPL, Duke Energy, Airport Jeep Crysler Dodge, Publix Super Market Charities, American Muscle Car Museum, Smart Electric Power Alliance, ESA Renewables, LifeStyle Homes, Solar Ray.

Thank ou, sponsors!

Learn how to become a volunteer or a sponsor for next year’s event, which will be held on May 12, 2018, at http://www.fsec.ucf.edu/go/energywhiz/.

Photo galleries of all the events and the award winners can be viewed at: http://fsec.zenfolio.com/ew2017

For more information about EnergyWhiz or for high resolution photos, contact Sherri Shields, Communications Director, at sherri@fsec.ucf.edu or 321-638-1019.

2017 EnergyWhiz Awards

Critter Comfort Cottage

Elementary Division

1st Place – Tiny Critters (Hedgehog) – Lake Nona Middle, Orlando

2nd Place – Triple F’s (Ferrets) – Ocean Breeze Elementary, Indian Harbor Beach

3rd Place – Triple Tweet Home (Birds) – Lake Nona Middle, Orlando

Middle School Division

1st Place – E.R.P. Ace (Dog) – Hidden Oaks Middle, Palm City

2nd Place – The 5 Sun Gals (Dog) – Lake Nona Middle, Orlando

3rd Place – A Box of Quackers (Ducklings) – Edgewood Jr./Sr. High, Merritt Island

High School Division

2nd Place – Miranda & Shopie (Hampster) – Riverview High, Riverview

1st Place – The Frogsters (Frogs) – Edgewood Jr/Sr High, Merritt Island

WOW! Award Elementary Division

            The Three Cat-a-teers 2.0 (Cats) – Newberry Elementary, Newberry

WOW! Award Middle & High Divisions

  • E.R.P. Ace (Dog) – Hidden Oaks Middle, Palm City

 

Energy Innovations

Middle School Division

            1st Place – Cerebral Palsy Playground – Howard Middle School, Orlando

2nd Place – Terrestrial Incident Manager. – Milwee Middle School, Longwood

3rd Place – H2O Solution – Edgewood Jr./Sr. High School, Merritt Island

High School Division

1st Place – Solar Electric Car – Western High School, Davie

2nd Place – Solar Camping – Lyman High, Longwood

3rd Place – Hydro-Gro – Key West High, Key West

WOW! Award Middle School Division

Terrestrial Incident Manager. – Milwee Middle School, Longwood

WOW! Award High School Division

Solar Electric Car – Western High School, Davie

 

Junior Solar Sprint

Best Design – Green Division (Grades 4 – 6)

            1st Place – Vibot 3, McLane Middle, Brandon

2nd Place – Martinez Middle, Lutz

            3rd Place – Shelby Racing Team, Lithia Springs Elementary, Valrico

Best Design – Blue Division (Grades 7 & 8)

            1st Place – Vibot 1, McLane Middle, Brandon

2nd Place – Beast Mode, Lake Nona Middle, Orlando

            3rd Place – Solar Reaction, STEM Tech Neighborhood Academy, Melbourne

 

Most Innovative Green Division

            1st Place – Vibot 3, McLane Middle, Brandon

2nd Place – MMA Airlines, Ocean Breeze Elementary, Indian Harbor Beach

3rd Place – Team Phoenix, Keeth Elementary, Winter Springs

Most Innovative Blue Division

            1st Place – Team Displacement, Milwee Middle, Longwood

2nd Place – Savitar God of Speed, Berkley Accelerated Middle, Auburndale

3rd Place – Nimbus 3000, Passport Charter, Orlando

 

Race – Green Division

1st Place – Peregreen Falcon, Martinez Middle, Lutz

2nd Place – Vibot 3, McLane Middle, Brandon

3rd Place – Speed Demons, Martinez Muddle, Lutz

Race – Blue Division

1st Place – Vibots 1, McLane Middle, Brandon

2nd Place – JR Racing, McLane Middle, Brandon

3rd Place – Js on Wheels, Passport Charter, Orlando


Solar Energy Cook-off

Best Design – Yellow Division (Grades 4 – 6)

1st Place – The Light Chefs, Hidden Oaks Middle, Palm City

2nd Place – Sole Cibo, Lake Nona Middle, Orlando

3rd Place – Sun for You and Me, Cypress Park Elementary, Orlando

Best Design – Orange Division (Grades 7 & 8)

1st Place – Nona Chefs, Lake Nona Middle, Orlando

2nd Place – RB65 Gaming, Lake Nona Middle, Orlando

3rd Place – Solar Tropical, Milwee Middle, Longwood

Best Design – Red Division (Grades 9 – 12)

1st Place – Culinary Duo, Lake Nona High, Orlando

2nd Place – Solar APES and Culinary, Pine Ridge High, Deltona

3rd Place – The Party Pineapples, Lyman High, Longwood

 

WOW! Award Yellow Division

Sole Cibo, Lake Nona Middle, Orlando

WOW! Award Orange Division

Mid-Life Crisis, Milwee Middle, Longwood

WOW! Award Red Division

Sponge Bob Solar Chefs, Edgewood Jr/Sr High, Merritt Island

 

Culinary Award – Yellow Division

1st Place – Sizzle Sisters, Newberry Elementary, Newberry

2nd Place – Solar Flare, Classical Homeschool, Naples

3rd Place – The Light Chefs, Hidden Oaks Middle, Palm City

Culinary Award – Orange Division

1st Place – The Panel Powers, Hidden Oaks Middle, Palm City

2nd Place – Mid-Life Crisis, Milwee Middle, Longwood

3rd Place – Solar Tropical, Milwee Middle, Longwood

Culinary Award – Red Division

1st Place – Culinary Duo, Lake Nona High, Orlando

2nd Place – GEMS, Girl Scout Troop 30027, Stuart

3rd Place – Sponge Bob Solar Chefs, Edgewood Jr/Sr High, Merritt Island

 

Fresh From Florida Award Yellow Division

            Sizzle Sisters, Newberry Elementary, Newberry

Fresh From Florida Award Orange Division

TSL, Walker Middle, Orlando

Fresh From Florida Award Red Division

The Blazers, Sarasota Christian School, Sarasota

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One Response to “Energized Students Infectious at Statewide Renewable Energy Competition”

  1. navkettan Says:

    Wow. That was a very informative list. Thanks. Keep it up.

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