WESTFALL TWP. - Applying a little ingenuity with a lot of teamwork led to the creation of mini-solar powered cars at Delaware Valley High School recently.
Students interested in engineering participated in the 4th annual Warrior Engineering Invitational, June 8th, sponsored by Air Soil Water; McGoey, Hauser and Edsall; Schoenagle and Schoenagle LCC where they built mini-solar cars that required the use of a small solar panel, a small motor and random materials that included rubber bands, compact discus and more.
Once their cars were constructed, the young engineers didn’t race each other, instead they had to race the clock. In the end, team A from Wallenpaupack Area High School won, as did team A from Dingman Delaware Middle School.
At the testing point of their car, Chris Higgins from WAHS was confident the team’s car would move, just not the entire distance of the tract. Higgins said he felt good about the car because once it was nudged during a trial run, it continued to move. Through the process of construction, the team had five tests and changed materials like rubber bands to adjust the “gear sizes.”
The students’ creations, Gene Ruzanski P.E. from Schoenagle and Schoenagle LLC who has been a judge in the competition for several years, said seeing the students’ “unique designs” is always “amazing” because of how creative they are. One team for instance, DVHS team A used a gear reduction system, which was essential because it was specific to the various aspects of the car from the motor to the wheels. That creativity, he said is “key to getting a good system.” Making such a system, Ruzanski noted requires extra work because the students basically created a transmission that would be used in a car. That, he found to be impressive.
The task, Ruzanski said was harder then he thought because it wasn’t easy getting a motor to turn a wheel using solar power, that required the application of principals that took time to connect. The students though, were “persistent and creative” since they didn’t give up. Through the competition, Ruzanski who is a graduate of DV said he would like the competition to inspire future engineers. He sees that happening because the students are doing “practical applications” of what they are learning in class.
Grace Liszka, a student from Dingman Delaware Middle School said midway through the competition, her team faced a setback because they started with an idea and it failed because the motor wasn’t powerful enough to move the car. From that, they tried four different designs and in the end, their “worse case scenario” car was their final product that worked.
This year’s competition was not the first for WAHS sophomore Gavin Hearn and Zyler Balu. This year however, Hearn said the team faced “a few problems” because he had hope that their car would succeed.
The task, Balu described as “cool.” A teammate, Micah Conant however, was surprised that the hosts of the event didn’t have a functional model to ensure such a car could be created. Not that he wanted a model to reference, but instead to know if the challenge could actually be done in the allocated time.
There not being a model car, that Wesley Conklin said was a challenge because it meant the students didn’t know how well the actual motor would work, which was an issue because they weren’t powerful to begin with. With 15 minutes remaining in the competition, the WAHS sophomores reconstructed their car and from there, Conant believed the car had “promise.”
Having participated in the competition for five years, Conklin said the best part of the competition has been learning how to work with others because there have been new teammates each year. As for Conant, he has enjoyed having to be creative and solving a problem. For Conant, who wants to be an engineer, it’s the problem solving of the competition that he enjoys.
Nicholas Hussung from Wallenpaupack Middle School said the challenge was “interesting” although it was “frustrating at times,” because getting the car to work wasn’t easy.
As the team from DVMS tested their car, Quinn Crubba said a wheel came off. After addressing a rubber band that was too tightly connected to an axel, which affected the motor, Crubba was more confident in the team’s car.
Crubb’a teammate, Ralph Courtright however, said the competition could’ve been “going better.” But, they were progressing because it seemed as though their car could work. He was “cynical” however, because of the team’s multiple attempts that ended in disappointment. That, he said was “very frustrating” but it was important that they continued to try.
Also from DVMS, Ethan Haggerty said the team’s car was “going good” as they were trying to figure out how to make the wheel spin. His first competition, Haggerty felt the competition was a “good experience.”
The initial idea of the project, Crubba said was confusing since he had never worked with anything solar before. Afterwards though, he found solar power to be interesting since light is the essential resource needed for power.
Courtright though, felt the initial task was “awkward” because the team started with the various materials and weren’t sure where to begin. Their final car however, was the result of “trial and error” and applying the various resources. Getting the wheels to work, posed a great challenge because the wheels weren’t working well because the motor was too small.
Using dowels, popsicle sticks, foam, foil, a solar panel and more, an Engineer from McGoey, Hauser & Edsall Consulting Engineer, D.P.C. Ethan Mindrebl said the students’ task was a “challenge” because the judges too tried to create a working car and had no luck. While building a car was “easy,” it was the motors and solar panels that posed the greatest issue because they didn’t offer enough power.
Creating a solar powered car was the task this year, Anca Pulis from Air Soil Water said because focusing on renewable and sustainable energy is a “very vital resource.” Last year the teams had to make an engine work using a tea light and random materials. This year “was a little harder” though. But, the students did well even though it took time to completely understand the challenge and decide which materials to use, how to apply the materials and meeting the required criteria.
Because of the randomness of the materials, that Pulis said was added so the students had to apply logic to their creations while working with their teammates. In the end, after getting their cars to work, the teams also had to create a presentation for the judges.
In the end the Wallenpaupack Area High School team A placed first, followed by the Delaware Valley High School team A and third place went to the Wallenpaupack Area High School team B. For the middle school, Dingman Delaware Middle School team A placed first, second went to Delaware Valley Middle School team B and Dingman Delaware Middle School team B placed third.