And we’re off! This year marks the 23rd year of the Texas Solar Race Car Event in Northside ISD. The races are a culminating event for students who have been working for weeks designing and building miniature solar-powered cars. Race day is Saturday, May 11 at Gustafson Stadium, 7001 Culebra. The event is free and open to the public.
Gates open at 8 a.m. The opening ceremony begins at 9:30 a.m. and the races run from 10 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. Though these are solar car races, there are no worries if the sun doesn’t shine - the cars also have battery-power as a backup.
Around 350 elementary teams, a total of 1,300 students, are expected to compete with three or four students on each team. Approximately 73 Northside schools will participate along with competitors from Southwest ISD, South San ISD, and Judson ISD. After preliminary heats, quarterfinals, semifinals, and a final race, awards will be handed out to the top eight teams.
Northside School Board Trustee Bobby Blount is the long-time organizer of the event which started as a mentorship project at Rayburn Middle School to give students hands-on lessons in teamwork, renewable energy, problem-solving, and science and engineering.
“I love seeing the students’ excitement as they compete,” says Blount. “This is a real-life problem for teams to solve and it’s important that students see science and math as fun. These races help do just that.”
Solar cars is an afterschool science program for fourth and fifth grade students. They are provided a solar panel, gear box, and axle rods but the rest of the car design is up to them. In addition to learning about teamwork, students are also developing their engineering skills through the design and testing process.
Sponsors for this year’s event are Northside Elementary Science Department, the Northside Education Foundation, the MITRE Corporation, the National Defense Education Program, Cryptologic and Cyber Systems Division, and Whataburger.
Parking will be available on both sides of the stadium and concessions will be available for purchase all day.
In case of inclement weather, a decision will be made by 7 a.m. on Race Day. Updates will be posted on Northside social media and a Solar Cars Remind. Text @2019solar to the number 81010 to receive text notifications.