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News Release NR-1603

Model Car Race, Building Competition Illuminate Solar Energy

Golden, CO. - Media Advisory Attention: Photo Editors / Assignment Editors

May 7, 2003

Tapping the power of the sun will be the theme of the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory's (NREL) Junior Solar Sprint Solarbrate event on May 10. Visitors will see participating students race solar cars and build solar models using K'NEX construction toys.

Sponsored by NREL, Kaiser-Hill, BP America, Inc., Midwest Research Institute, Battelle and Bechtel, the Junior Solar Sprint and Solar Model Building Competition give students from around the state the opportunity to show their engineering and design skills by building and racing model solar-powered vehicles and solar powered models.

For the Junior Solar Sprint, each team starts with a motor and a silicon solar cell, which converts light into electricity. Using any other materials, competitors design and build vehicles no larger than 12 inches wide, 24 inches long and 12 inches high. The 20-meter race is a double elimination competition with awards going to the five fastest cars. Five design awards also will be given for technology, craftsmanship and innovation.

Students in the Solar Model Building Competition use a K'NEX Energy System Kit Model, which contains 1,082 pieces, two motors and two solar panels. With it, they must design and build a solar-powered model that moves or has moving parts powered only by the sun. The winner of the contest will be the team whose model is awarded the most points by the judges.

NREL is a national laboratory managed by Midwest Research Institute, Battelle and Bechtel. In addition to its work on biotechnology for fuels and chemicals, the lab is a leading center for research into photovoltaics, wind energy, energy-efficient buildings, advanced vehicle design and hydrogen fuel cells.

What: Junior Solar Sprint, 11a.m. - 2:30 p.m. - Forty-one teams of middle school students from across Colorado will race model solar cars designed to use the sun's energy.

Solar Model Building Competition, 9:30 a.m. - Nine middle-school student teams tap their creative energy to design and build solar powered models such as a lunar rover or Ferris wheel using K'NEX construction toys.

The Junior Solar Sprint Solarbrate event is free and open to the public.

When: 9:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m., MAY 10

Where: 1001 Ulysses Street, Golden, CO

Editors note: List of participating schools follows

Participating Schools

Junior Solar Sprint:

Aspen Community School in Woody Creek(two teams)
Bell Middle School in Golden (two teams)
Bridge School in Boulder (two teams)
Casey Middle School in Boulder (two teams)
Centennial Middle School in Boulder (two teams)
Eagle Valley Middle School in Eagle (two teams)
Fountain Middle School in Fountain
Garden School in New Castle (two teams)
Hayden Middle School in Hayden (two teams)
Lyons Middle School in Lyons (two teams)
Mandalay Middle School in Westminster (two teams)
Maplewood Middle School in Greeley (two teams)
Mead Middle School in Mead (two teams)
Monarch K-8 in Louisville (two teams)
North Valley Middle School in LaSalle (two teams)
Orchard Mesa Middle School in Grand Junction (two teams)
Rishel Middle School in Denver (two teams)
Van Arsdale Elementary in Arvada (two teams)
Vikan Middle School in Brighton (two teams)
West Middle School in Colorado Springs (two teams)
West Middle School in Grand Junction (two teams)

K'NEX Competition

Eagle Valley Middle School in Eagle
Lyons Middle School in Lyons
Mead Middle School in Mead (two teams)
North Valley Middle School in LaSalle
Orchard Mesa Middle School in Grand Junction (two teams)
Vikan Middle School in Brighton
West Middle School in Colorado Springs

For further information contact NREL Public Relations at 303-275-4090.
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