Hayden Every year, Hayden eighth-grade teacher Greg Richards supplies his students with a small solar panel and a three-volt engine.
It is then up to the students to construct a car to race 20 meters using the energy from the sun to power the car.
Last weekend, six Hayden eighth-graders competed at the Junior Solar Sprint, which was held last Saturday in Golden.
A solar-powered car built by students Casey Steele, Caleb Keadle and Ken Gehrman placed eighth in the competition, which featured 42 teams.
A second car, built by Kayla Kostur, Kelsi Overstreet and Andrew Birch, made it to the semifinals but just fell short of making it to the final round.
"I'm proud of everything they have done," Richards said of the two teams.
"Overall, our second team probably finished 11th. They barely got nosed out going into the finals."
The fastest time the car built by Steele, Keadle and Gehrman was clocked at 8.5 seconds for 20 meters.
The car entered by the second team had its fastest time of 9.2 seconds.
"The fastest car recorded at the competition was 6.1 seconds," Richards said.
The competition is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
The competition was held at the department's Solar Energy Research Facility.
Since 1993, Richards, who teaches science and math, has been having his students construct a car using the engines and a solar panel that is half a centimeter.
This year, the students started working on their cars in the beginning of April. The cars were complete by April 20.
That is the day Richards held a competition to determine which two teams would represent the school at the competition.
"We had 20 cars entered, and we could only take the top two teams," he said.
The project allows Richards to teach the students about solar energy.
"The students really learn about solar energy, aerodynamics, steering and gear ratio," Richards said. "It also makes the students aware of alternate energy sources."
Students must construct their cars no larger than 12 inches wide, 24 inches long and 12 inches high.
The competition also allows the students to show off their engineering and design skills.
The competition has been held since 1990.
Since Hayden has been competing, the best finish by a local team is sixth-place, Richards said.
Other sponsors of the event include Kaiser-Hill, Midwest Research Institute and Battelle and Bechtel.