NREL Middle School Car Competition

NREL hosts car competitions for student-built solar- and battery-powered model vehicles. Middle school teams across Colorado are invited to participate in this fun, educational, and exciting event every May.

What Is the Middle School Car Competition?

Every year, teams of middle schoolers compete for the title of fastest car and best design. Goals of the program include:

  • Generating enthusiasm for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM)
  • Improving students' understanding of scientific concepts and renewable energy technologies
  • Encouraging young people to consider technical careers at an early age.

Teams work together to build cars with guidance from a parent, teacher, or coach to compete in race and design categories. A Spirit Award is also presented to one team to recognize good sportsmanship.

2024 Event

NREL will not host a Middle School Car Competition in 2024. Please check back for updates on future competitions.

Registration Requirements

  • Teams must be composed of two to four middle school (6th–8th grade) students from the same school.
  • Each team needs one coach associated with the students (teacher, coach, parent, etc.).
  • Each school may send up to four teams (two teams for solar-powered and two for battery-powered).

Download the Competition Rules

Solar-Powered Car Rules

Electric Battery Car Rules

Resources and Supplies

From the suppliers listed here, you can order kits containing solar cell modules and electric motors, surplus motors, and gears. Download the kit and component supplier listPDF for solar- and Li-Ion battery-powered cars. (Note: This supplier list is not exhaustive.) Review the above competition rules for details on car specifications and required parts.

Li-Ion Battery Safety, Testing, and Compliance

Coach Compliance Form

Material Safety Data Sheet Lithium Polymer Battery


For more information or questions about NREL's middle school car competition, contact NREL’s Education Center.