High School Solar Team Claims Third Victory

The Sundancer, a solar car designed and built by high school students from the Houston Vocational Center, of Houston, Mississippi, won this year’s Dell-Winston Solar Car Challenge. This is the third consecutive victory claimed by the team from the rural community, which boasts a population of only 3,903 residents.

Cocoa, Florida, July 25, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] The nine-day solar vehicle race began on July 15 at Dell’s headquarters in Round Rock, Texas, and concluded 1,500 miles later in Cocoa, Florida at the Florida Solar Energy Center on Wednesday. It is the largest and longest running high school solar car race in the world, according to organizers. The Sundancer achieved a top speed of 64 mph and averaged 23.1 mph throughout the race. The Sundancer car weighs 722 pounds, is 17.5 feet long, 6 feet wide and 5 feet high, and is powered completely by solar energy. During the race, Mississippi Governor Ronnie Musgrove proclaimed July 18 “Houston Solar Car Day” in recognition of the Mississppi team’s outstanding solar car program. “We can hardly believe it,” said Sherrie Gail Springer, spokesperson for the Houston team. “To have not only won this year’s race, but to have the governor come to our hometown and recognize us was really a thrill. It’s hard to describe how much this program means to each of us. We really feel like it’s helping us be better students, and also helping us get ready for the future. We’ll remember this experience for the rest of our lives.” The other teams that competed in the race were from Columbus, Indiana; Newburgh, New York; Ridgway, Colorado; and Juarez, Mexico. Dell awarded Ridgway High School student, Chelsey Johnson, of in Ridgway, Colorado, the US$5,000 Dell-Winston Solar Car Challenge scholarship, which is given in recognition of an outstanding student, who exhibits leadership before and during the race. Johnson, a graduating senior; will use the scholarship funds to help him pursue his college studies. The Dell-Winston Solar Challenge is a two-year education program that is hosted by the Winston School, of Dallas Texas, and was started to motivate high school students in science and engineering. The closed-track or cross-country race, sponsored by Dell is the end product of the two-year cycle, designed to give students an opportunity to display their work. Since its inception 10 years ago, the program has taught more than 900 schools in 20 countries about the wonders of science, and demonstrated that high school students can build and race roadworthy solar cars. On even-numbered years, the race along the Texas Motor Speedway; on odd-numbered years, the teams drive cross-country. After a media event at the Dell Diamond on the afternoon of July 14th, the teams began their adventure at Dell Computer’s World Headquarters on the following day. The racers passed through communities containing more than 10,000,000 people sharing the excitement of their project, and displaying their commitment, dedication, and imagination. Special en route display events were held at dozens of communities and high schools along the racecourse.

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