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Collaboration on solar car to teach STEM to high school students

Photo Credit: University of South Australia

A recently agreed partnership will develop a new integrated learning program that will build a solar car to be used in a world solar challenge competition.

 According to a recent press release, the University of South Australia (UniSA) will be working with Balaklava High School in this endeavour.

Staff and students from the University’s schools of Art Architecture & Design, Engineering, and Information Technology & Mathematical Science, will provide design and construction guidance for Balaklava students.

Learning through the journey

They are aiming to have the car ready in time for the 2023 event.

The World Solar Challenge is unashamedly difficult, according to an Associate Professor from the University.

However, the journey of getting a car to the starting line, let alone the finishing line, is incredibly rewarding.

They are looking forward to being able to help the high school experience that journey.

Considerations have to be made in order to develop one of these cars. But other schools have done it and the students from Balaklava will learn an incredible amount from the process.

The team from the University and the High School will work together to develop a program of integrated education around the World Solar Challenge.

There have been a lot of official talk on the need to teach STEM skills in an integrated way, but there is very little practical guidance to how that can be achieved.

Building a solar car is the perfect way to bring so many disciplines and ideas together into one project. This will give the students a hands-on, and above all, an enjoyable learning experience.

Moreover, this initiative taps into the general enthusiasm and interest in renewable energy within the local community.

Hopefully, this will encourage the whole town to get behind the program.

Witnessing the Challenge

Students from Balaklava High have been invited to observe the Challenge this year as a first step to their project.

They will be able to witness the University compete as part of a team from the Australian Technology Network of Universities (ATN).

ATN is a collective that includes UniSA, Queensland University of Technology, the University of Technology Sydney, RMIT University, and Curtin University.

The ATN team will be competing in the cruiser class category. This category features sedan-like cars designed for practicality as well as efficiency.

The academics from the UniSA have made several contributions to the team’s vehicle. These are:

  1. Project-managed the work on the team’s vehicle.
  2. Designed the solar collector and energy management system
  3. Contributed to the overall design of the car

The Challenge kicks off in Darwin on 13 October, and travels through central Australia, before finishing in Adelaide a week later.

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