Students sprint to success in solar challenge

Beacon car beats competition
John Schlater, left, and Luke D'Ambrogi designed a solar car that won first place in a recent competition. BY MELISSA STEELE
June 10, 2013

Some Beacon students have the need for speed.

And what better place to take care of that need than at Dover Downs Raceway.

That's where Beacon sixth-graders John Schlater and Luke D'Ambrogi recently won the 2013 Junior Solar Spring for the fastest car.

"We named it Lambo, after Lamborghini," said Luke.

The car lived up to its name as it beat out competition from Wilmington, Bear, Dover and Milford to win the title.

"No one else had even started when our car finished," Luke said. The boys' car won the competition by finishing the 50-foot track in a time of 4.83 seconds.

In its 19th year, the competition helps educate students about renewable energy, said Beacon teacher Don Schlater.

The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control's Division of Energy and Climate organized the event and provided students with kits from which to make their cars.

The main component is the photovoltaic cells used to convert solar rays into energy that powers the cars.

The boys worked on the car over a three-week period to perfect the winning design.

John said their car was about six seconds faster than the other cars. The boys used a smaller wheel size and a simple gear-to-gear connection that both boys said they believe gave them an advantage over other car designs during the race.

"It was pretty cool racing the car at Dover Downs," Luke said about the racing experience. A first-place trophy now sits on display at Beacon Middle next to the winning car.

Alongside the winning car is one designed by sixth-graders Alia Marshall, Jackie Cannon and Alyssa Needham that finished eighth place in the competition.


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