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NREL Gives Car-Tech Awards to Colorado Middle School Students

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NREL competition in Colorado

NREL competition in Colorado. Photo courtesy NREL.

The inventors of future car technology might be among the winners of recent student car competitions in Colorado. The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has given trophies to those Colorado middle school student teams who built the fastest lithium-ion powered model vehicles.

Following the May 18 races at Dakota Ridge High School in Littleton, the NREL gave the first-place trophy to “Lucky Charms,” from University School in Greeley; second place went to “Fat Albert,” of Southern Hills Middle School in Boulder; and third place to “Green Spartan,” also of Southern Hills.

NREL also gave “lithium-ion design” trophies for technology, craftsmanship, and innovation. The first place lithium-ion design award went to “The Nerds,” from Lincoln Academy Middle School in Arvada; second place went to Sabin Middle School in Colorado Springs; and third place to “Sodium the Salt Truck” of Woodlands Academy in Castle Rock, as CleanTechnica reports.

In addition, NREL issued three “solar design” trophies for technology, craftsmanship, and innovation. First place went to “Sweet and Sassy” of Woodlands Academy in Castle Rock; second place to “Ghetto Gecko,” also of Woodlands Academy, and third place to “Electric Engineers,” of Logan School in Denver.

Finally, the Spirit Award for good sportsmanship, including fairness and respectful behavior, went to the “Sweet and Sassy” team from Woodlands Academy in Castle Rock.

NREL hosts the car competitions for solar- and battery-powered model vehicles built by Colorado middle-school student teams every May. The teams work together with guidance from a parent, teacher, or coach. As NREL points out, it takes skills in both math and science to build solar- and battery-powered cars, and the main goal of the competitions is to generate enthusiasm for science, technology, engineering, and math when students are at a crucial stage of their development. The contest also encourages young people to consider technical careers at an early age, by helping students to understand scientific concepts and renewable energy, NREL notes.

There is a whole host of information for students who would like to learn more about building their own solar- or lithium-ion-powered model cars at

NREL writes:

Solar- and battery-powered car competitions can be hosted by individuals, organizations, or schools. Hosts coordinate regional competitions by contacting middle/junior high schools; assigning technical mentors to the students and teachers; and planning, organizing, and conducting races. […]

For more information about NREL’s model car competitions, contact Marcus Giron, 303-275-3047


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