Young Native racecar makers show off solar power

By Colleen Keane
Special to the Times

ALBUQUERQUE, May 15, 2014

Text size: A A A

(Special to the Times - Colleen Keane)

Fifth-grade student Jordan Joe from Shiprock's Mesa Elementary school gets ready to race Team Thunder's solar-powered race car in PNMÕs 20th annual finals held last Friday in Albuquerque.

Last Friday was a good day for a car race. Under a sunny sky, with hundreds of well-wishers cheering them on, Native American elementary students from eight New Mexico schools competed in Public Service Company of New Mexico's 20th annual solar-powered car race finals.

PNM is a major provider of energy services in New Mexico.

The fifth-grade students crouched down alongside their cars and focused on the starting and finishing lines of a custom-made racetrack that spread across most of the Explora Museum's outside sun deck.

Students from the Santa Ana Pueblo after-school program, San Felipe Elementary, Santo Domingo Elementary, Cochiti Middle, Isleta Elementary, Albuquerque's S.R. Marmon Elementary, Shiprock's Mesa Elementary and Tesuque Day schools participated in the project, which began in classrooms with PNM engineers providing hands-on guidance.

"Our students absolutely love it," said fifth-grade teacher Melvin Sharp from Mesa Elementary. "Hats off to PNM! We are thankful to them and our students benefit from this."

Cars were judged on design, aesthetics and speed.

Sharp said that he's been bringing his students to the event for the past four years. This year he brought 18 students who were all a part of Team Thunder, which came in second for design and third in the overall category of design, aesthetics and speed.

"It was fun!" said Tatiana Lee, who is in Dionne Allison's class at Mesa Elementary School where she's been learning that cars can run on solar energy just as well as they can on fossil fuels. She was one of the winning Dream Team members.

Mesa Elementary's Dream Team won first place in design and first place in the overall category of design, aesthetics and speed.

The Blue Lightning Lobos from Albuquerque's S.R. Marmon Elementary, where most of the students are from To'hajiilee, placed third in the design category.

"We are proud of the kids. They did a good job in working in teams to get their cars ready. They just love it," said Allison, who brought 21 of her Mesa Elementary students.

"Students learn about solar energy, physics and the mechanics of force and motion," said Ryan Baca, a PNM spokeswoman.

First place for speed went to Team Adidas from San Felipe Elementary and first place for aesthetics went to Team Teenage Mutant Ninja from Tesuque Day School.

"It isn't necessarily the fastest car that wins. Everyone who participates is a winner. The value coming out of it for students is the value of team work," Sharp emphasized.

How to get The Times:

Back to top ^