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Solar Car Racing: Try Engineering

What it is: Solar Car Racing is a great game and challenge from Try Engineering.  On the Solar Car Racing games students will virtually design and race a solar car.  Students begin by choosing the components for their car that will optimize the performance.  Next they test out their car in a desert and on a racetrack environment to find out how it performs.  Students can observe the performance and then modify their design based on feedback and race again.

How to integrate the Solar Car Racing game into the classroom: Try Engineering has some really fantastic interactive games for students.  I like Solar Car Racing because it goes beyond just building and testing, and encourages students to learn from their mistakes to modify their design.  Too often games created for students have a defined end point that doesn’t encourage students to continue tinkering and experimenting.  Solar Car Racing would make a good “experiment” center on classroom computers.  Students can stop by the “lab” area as they are learning about solar energy to test out the principles they are learning.

Ideally, students would each have access to the site.  This would allow each student to create and test a solar car design.  Let students discuss observations of what designs work best and why.  Students can “sell” their solar car design to each other. Expand this activity by asking students to create a sales brochure for their solar car.  Students can include researched information about solar cars, tout unique elements of their design and practice persuasive writing and design.

If students don’t have access to their own computers, make this a class activity using a projector-connected computer or interactive whiteboard.  Give each student the opportunity to tweak and test the design, discussing adjustments and possible outcomes as a class.

If you have the resources, perfect the solar car design using the Solar Car Racing game and follow-up by creating an actual working model size version.

Tips: Be sure to check out the fantastic list of related links at the bottom of the Try Engineering Solar Car Racing page.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Solar Car Racing in your classroom!

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6 Comments

  1. Hi Kelly,
    I appreciate how you add a bunch of hands-on activities and additional suggestions on how teachers can apply this or that in their own class. That’s always the part I look forward to the most about your posts. Thanks for your attention to those aspects. You review something, but not without possible implementation ideas. That’s something I need to do more in my posts!!

    -Buzz Garwood

  2. Thank you Buzz, it is something that I was disappointed that no one else was doing when I first started using technology with kids. I wanted to be sure to include that!

  3. This looks like a great tool to engage students and still introduce engineering concepts. I teach engineering courses at the high school level which are geared towards preparing students for college level engineering.

  4. This fits so great into the engineering classes that I teach it is crazy. I love the way that you use the design and redesign, That happening everyday in an engineers life and the sooner a student see this the better.
    These are some great ideas!

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