Students could be seen high-fiving each other on at the tennis courts earlier this week, but this was no tennis match. The 8th graders were racing their hand-built, solar-powered cars across the width of the courts in intense three-group heats.
For a few weeks each spring, the students set aside their notebooks and engage in a fully-immersive approach to testing and applying all of the principles of mechanics that they learned through the fall and winter. They apply their understanding of material science, electrical circuits, Newton's laws of motion, and forms of energy, by designing and building these small, solar-powered cars. In groups of two or three, students work together building, testing, and troubleshooting their solar cars. The fastest cars during the final race on the courts move on to the semi-final and final rounds. This year, Niki and Henry’s car crossed the finish line in under four seconds, winning the day. The buzz could be heard from across campus.
“The team was meticulous when it came to designing and crafting their car,” said teacher Kasia Garbacz. “They ran into some technical difficulties in the process and overcame them with minimal guidance. It’s so hard for us as teachers to suppress that natural urge to show the teams how to do it, but it’s key to having them learn and gain unparalleled satisfaction from figuring it out on their own. SCH is so unique in seeking and crafting these opportunities for students. Their engagement and excitement speak volumes in how key these are to student learning.”