[Assam] [assam] Young and Restless Students Race Sophisticated Race Machines in Detroit
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Thu Apr 26 18:00:39 IST 2012
N Y Times (April 26, 2012)
April 26, 2012, 6:00 AM
Young and Restless Students Race Sophisticated Mini-Machines in Detroit
By PAUL STENQUIST
One of the electric model racecars built for the competition.
DETROIT — This week, elementary and middle-school students convened on
the floor of Cobo Center to build and race toy cars only using the
parts and materials presented to them the day of the competition.
An unidentified student with his team’s electric racer.
The three-day event, which concludes Thursday, is the culmination of A
World in Motion, a teacher-administered and volunteer-assisted
educational program intended to animate lessons about science,
technology, engineering and math. The program is administered by the
SAE Foundation, the charitable arm of SAE International, an
organization comprising engineering professionals in the transportation
industries. A number of corporations, including Honeywell, Johnson
Controls, Nissan and Toyota, provide financing to the foundation, which
in turn produces the program.
In a telephone interview, Matt Miller, director of the SAE Foundation,
dispelled the idea that students were using rubber bands and popsicle
“The student-built vehicles are powered by electric motors on Day 1 of
the competition, balloon-fueled jet engines on Day 2 and
proton-exchange-membrane fuel cells on the third day of competition,”
he said. Not your typical Matchbox rally, then.
Teams were required to send their cars through speed tests and obstacle
The competing vehicles are constructed on site the day of the event,
using only those materials supplied in a kit. Students are briefed on
rules and procedures, but no engineering assistance is provided.
Industry volunteers, who may have previously provided classroom
instruction, are enlisted as judges and scoring officials.
Teams of three or four students compete in a variety of events. On
Tuesday, the first day of competition, children assembled electric cars
to climb steep ramps, make all-out speed runs and bull their way
through obstacle courses. Similar tests of accuracy, endurance and
speed were scheduled for Days 2 and 3.
The competition is open to students from across the country, with some
slots reserved for Detroit public schools. Registration for the event
opens in February, and the roster fills up fast, Mr. Miller said. Some
schools engaged in fund-raising campaigns in their communities to
travel to Detroit.
For the first day’s electric-car competition, each team was assigned a
race lane one meter wide and four meters long, and all practice and
competition runs were performed in that lane. The car with the fastest
time was pronounced the winner in each event.
A team from St. John Elementary School in Fenton, Mich., swept the top
three positions in the 15-degree hill-climb event. St. Edith School of
Livonia, Mich., pulled a sweep in the 30-degree hill climb and César
Chávez Academy of Detroit won the top-speed competition. St. Edith came
back to triumph in the obstacle course event.
Winners in Wednesday’s jet-car competition included Clemson Elementary
School from Clemson, S.C.; Cooper Upper Elementary of Ann Arbor, Mich.;
St. John of Fenton, Mich.; and St. Columba’s School, whose team made
the trip to Detroit from New Delhi, India.
Victors in the fuel-cell race challenges will be determined later
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