Winner of the largest Junior Solar Sprint in California is heading to nationals

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Nearly 200 middle school students from 20 regional schools competed in the largest Junior Solar Sprint competition in California history. The Junior Solar Sprint is an international competition where fifth through eighth grade students work in teams to build and compete model solar-powered cars that are judged on design, originality, construction and fastest time. San Diego-based Sullivan Solar Power, who has been sponsoring this event locally since 2009 in collaboration with IBEW Local 569, donated 300 solar kits to regional schools.

Nearly 200 middle school students from 20 regional schools competed in the largest Junior Solar Sprint competition in California history. The Junior Solar Sprint is an international competition where fifth through eighth grade students work in teams to build and compete model solar-powered cars that are judged on design, originality, construction and fastest time. San Diego-based Sullivan Solar Power, who has been sponsoring this event locally since 2009 in collaboration with IBEW Local 569, donated 300 solar kits to regional schools.

Students from Joan MacQueen Middle School in Alpine claimed the official Southern California Junior Solar Sprint title, which took place at Flora Vista Elementary School in Encinitas. The winning team, “Dan II,” will be sponsored by Sullivan Solar Power to attend the national competition in Orlando, Fl. on June 21. Second place went to “Team Chevy” of the Child’s Primary School in San Diego and third place went to “Fusion” from Olivenhain Pioneer Elementary School in Carlsbad.

“I helped in the classroom when the kids built these cars and you could tell that the students were over the moon just to be participating on Saturday. They didn’t have to win, but they were out there having fun, and that’s when they want to come out and do it again,” said Chris Loarie, the father of a student with the winning car “Dan II,” who competed the car “Dan” last year, “This is how you inspire kids to do these types of engineer endeavors in the future.”

Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear, Encinitas Union School District Superintendent Dr. Tim Bairdand Flora Vista Elementary School Principal Chris Juarez spoke at the event about the importance of getting children today excited about science, technology, engineering and renewable energy to be the future leaders we need as a region and nation. Certificates were provided to participating students from California Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher. Hundreds of people attended the event, including local principals, teachers, parents, kids and the Electric Vehicle Association of San Diego. 

“The only way we’re going to have the energy we need to move into the next century is to use renewable energy like solar power,” said Daniel Sullivan, founder and president of Sullivan Solar Power, “There’s enough power that hits our Earth to power our needs, it’s just a matter of harnessing it and giving kids a taste of what it can mean for the future, which is very important for our society to move forward.” 

Sullivan shared that his employees happily volunteer their time for this event since they see the importance of helping kids understand solar technology, and how it can transform the way we generate electricity.

“Because of the Junior Solar Sprint, I’ve learned how a solar panel works and more about engineering,” said middle school winner Hayden L. from Joan MacQueen Middle School, “It’s a very fun contest. You get to learn a lot, and you get to compete with other people, having fun while you create something.”

Many local science teachers were the behind-the-scenes champions who signed up the students for the event and worked with the students to build their cars in the classroom.

“With the challenges we face today with pollution and climate change, it’s important to open up the kids’ minds to the clean energy sector,” Jeff Talsky, a science teacher at Challenger Middle School in San Diego. His team of four students placed fourth overall.

The winners by category from Saturday’s competition are as follows:

Overall

1st “Dan II” – Joan MacQueen Middle School in Alpine

2nd “Team Chevy” – The Child’s Primary School in San Diego

3rd “Fusion” – Olivenhain Pioneer Elementary School in Carlsbad

Design

1st “People” – Millennial Tech Middle School in San Diego  

2nd “Dan II” – Joan MacQueen Middle School in Alpine

3rd “Classic” – Joan MacQueen Middle School in Alpine

Construction

1st “Dan II” – Joan MacQueen Middle School in Alpine

2nd “Classic” – Joan MacQueen Middle School in Alpine

3rd “Yato” – Southwest Middle School in Otay Mesa

Originality

1st “Dan II” – Joan MacQueen Middle School in Alpine

2nd “Classic” – Joan MacQueen Middle School in Alpine

3rd “Yato” – Southwest Middle School in Otay Mesa  

Speed

1st “Dan II” – Joan MacQueen Middle School in Alpine

2nd “Damian” – Joan MacQueen Middle School in Alpine

3rd “Wild America” – Home school in Jamul

Orange County Winner

“Lobos 1” – Los Alisos Intermediate School – Mission Viejo

Riverside County Winner

“Solar Overwatch” – Lake Elsinore Middle School

Other participating schools included: Black Mountain Middle School, Castle Rock Middle School, Challenger Middle School, Chula Vista Middle School, Flora Vista Elementary School, Innovation Middle School, Jean Farb Elementary School, Machado Elementary School, Millennial Tech Middle School, Mission Estancia Elementary School, Montgomery Middle School, Pacific Trails Middle School and Torrey Hills School.

For more information about the Southern California Junior Solar Sprint, and to follow team Dan II in Orlando, Fl. next month, visit www.juniorsolarsprint.org.

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