Soroco physic students compete in Solar Rollers contest | SteamboatToday.com

Soroco physic students compete in Solar Rollers contest

Lee Cox/For Steamboat Today

Soroco High School physics students recently participated in the Solar Rollers competition in Denver. The competition tasked students with building radio-controlled solar- and battery-powered vehicles, then pitting those vehicles against one another in a series of tests. Overall, Soroco finished seventh in a field of 21 teams. Pictured, from left, are Bosch Erickson, Grant Redmond, Ben Kelley, Erik Shafer, Gov. John Hickenlooper, Lee Cox and Truman Anarella

On May 13, the Soroco High School physics class participated in the Solar Rollers competition, which was held at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science and included 21 teams from across Colorado.

The class signed up for the project during the fall and received the kit, which was accompanied by an online course detailing the construction of a radio-controlled, solar- and battery-powered car, in January. The kit included everything needed to build the vehicle, but there were design decisions to be made. For example, the students had to decide on the shape of the chassis.

The class used tools in the school's agriculture shop, as well as tools provided by the teacher, and though the students encountered a few problems along the way, they were able to overcome those problems and get the car running.

On competition day, the class was provided with an area in which to work on their car, and the first event of the day was titled "20 Questions," which had been provided beforehand.  The students prepared answers to each question, and a die was used to randomly pick the questions they had to answer. The team placed third in this competition.

The next event was the speed test. A straight course was laid out, and each team ran its car down the track a few times, first on battery power, then on solar power.

Soroco team's vehicle reached a speed of 33 kilometers per hour on battery power to finish 12th and 20 kilometers per hour on solar power to finish 13th. The top speeds recorded ranged from 42 to 46 kilometers per hour on battery power and from 26 to 28 kilometers per hour on solar.

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The culminating event was the circuit race, which included all 21 cars on a track measuring 75 square feet, which many referred to as “mayhem.” The cars started with discharged batteries and sat in the sun for half an hour to charge. The race followed, and the winner was determined by the car that completed the most laps in an hour.

As the hour progressed, clouds rolled in, and when the sun was covered, most of the cars began to slow. There were many collisions, and some repairs needed to be made, so there were pit stops, just like in real racing.  Soroco placed 11th in the circuit race and registered the fifth-fastest lap time of 15.9 seconds. The fastest lap time recorded was 11.4 seconds.

Overall, the Soroco team finished tied for seventh place out of 21 teams. The top three teams were all from schools that had participated before, and organizers praised the Soroco team on how well they did on their first try. Gov. John Hickenlooper was on hand for the trophy presentation.

Soroco plans to compete in the event again next year.