Young Victorians prepare for Solar Challenge

The 2017 Model Solar Vehicle Challenge is engaging a new generation in sustainable technology.

Hundreds of primary, secondary and university students are preparing for the 2017 Model Solar Vehicle Challenge (MSVC) being held at Scienceworks in Spotswood this weekend (21-22 October).

Deakin University has taken on the role of major sponsor of this volunteer-run event, which encourages the adoption of sustainable technology by young Australians – introducing them to a range of skills related to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

At the event, students will be presented with a design and build challenge, creating their own designs and using their own skills to build a solar-powered vehicle. Boats are generally built by primary school groups, while cars, requiring more complex engineering, are built by secondary school teams. This year, university engineering design students are also competing in a separate competition on Sunday.

The Challenge builds STEM skills through applied learning and helps participants develop design and creativity skills. It is also a strong vehicle for encouraging girls to consider taking up non-traditional careers.

Dr Adrian Panow, Director, Deakin Energy, said he was delighted that Deakin University was sponsoring the event, which aligns with Deakin’s goals to provide students with the skills they will need in the new economy.

“The MSV Challenge is an excellent way to make modern energy technologies familiar to primary school students, to develop practical applications of these technologies through secondary school, and encourage participation in STEM in university studies,” Dr Panow said.

Approximately 200 teams will compete at the event, with three to four in each team, totalling about 750-800 students over the weekend. Another 50 university students are expected.

Metropolitan schools will race on Saturday and regional schools on Sunday, with the top metropolitan teams returning on Sunday afternoon to compete for the Victorian Junior Boat Challenge Prizes and a chance to represent Victoria at the national finals.

The principle of the MSVC is encapsulated by the words of Chinese Confucian philosopher Xun Kuang: “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”

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