Ken doll ‘drives’ model solar car
Seventh-grader Alvaro Lima won the first-ever Solar Sprint at Cashmere Middle School on March 23 with a streamlined super cruiser piloted by a Ken doll with a bad haircut.
(My Ken doll had plastic hair molded into his plastic head. This one had a Beatles bowl cut. Go figure.)
But back to the story: After a series of heats that eliminated all but two contestants, Lima literally jumped for joy when his model solar car sprinted across the finish line on the middle school tennis courts. “I told you I would win,” he shouted to aide Daniz Lopez, who helped him build and race the car.
The race was the culmination of a project that began in February. Jim White, a Chelan County PUD engineer, and Eric Sydenstricker, PUD technician, visited the school once a week to help students in Bob Martin’s seventh grade science class build their own solar-powered model cars.
The solar experiment is part of a pilot program that has Chelan PUD employees working with four middle schools this year. It’s a joint effort with the North Central Educational Service District to build future scientists and PUD workers. Students at each school have chosen their own science projects. Cashmere’s was the first to be completed. The other middle schools and their projects are:
• Entiat, where students are building a real hovercraft. They’ve performed lab work to measure force and power, developed a simple motor circuit, and tested differences between batteries in parallel and series.
• Pioneer in Wenatchee, where students are investigating underwater welding and mechanics. They’ve learned about Boyle’s Law and conducted experiments using small chambers built by PUD divers.
• Orchard in Wenatchee. These young scientists are building a replica of Rocky Reach Dam. So far they’ve built electro magnets that demonstrate how current flow creates a magnetic field, and they’ve learned about hydraulics and kinetic energy.
The learning and fun continue into the first week of summer vacation, when the seventh-graders are invited to attend the new Action Academy at Rocky Reach. For four half days during the week of June 18, they’ll show off their projects, tour the dam, and hear about careers in science.
Related: “Where relativity meets reality” (Wenatchee World)