Solar Model Car and Boat Challenges Case Study

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Engineering and Physical Sciences
Research Council

The case study is a regional project funded by Yorkshire Forward and the EPSRC, working through the SetPoints in each of the four Yorkshire regions and centrally managed by the Centre for Science Education, Sheffield Hallam University and in collaboration with the Plugging Into The Sun® initiative of the Schools & Homes Energy Education Project.

Sun Shines on engineering future in South Yorkshire.

180 young people from South Yorkshire attended a two day ‘Hot Metal Cool Future’ careers event. A celebration of South Yorkshire metals, manufacturing and engineering sector. During the event companies promoted their achievements and successes to demonstrate that the sector can offer an interesting and rewarding career.

At the event the young people built solar model cars as part of the ‘Engineering a Better World’ initiative‘ to develop young peoples enthusiasm for science, engineering and Technology.

The scheme intends to engage and raise the awareness of students and their teachers through curricular and non curricular interventions and by encouraging school departments to work collaboratively across Design & Technology, Science/Physical Sciences and Mathematics (and Geography, PSE, Citizenship, Biology and English) to study engineering and its relationship to issues of sustainability. One of the interventions is a case study which uses state of the art solar cell technology. Students, mostly at Key stage 3 research the science and maths behind model solar car/boat kits and then design their own prototypes for conducting experiments and racing.

The solar car/boat educational kits have been developed over the past several years by the Plugging into the Sun® initiative of the Schools & Homes Energy Education Project. The kits support a ‘new’ approach to learning that focuses on stimulating student’s interest and involves real life applications of scientific concepts while providing opportunities to use inventive & creative skills crucial to scientific and inventive thinking.

Students will be expected to engage in communicating their findings and work to a larger audience. Teachers will be supported in this through specialist training in integrating personal capabilities within aspects of thematic cross-curricular projects.