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Solar cars challenge ignites engineering spark in WA students

More than 700 school students will put their engineering skills to the test this month, going head to head against each other in a series of miniature solar car racing championships.

Year 6 and Year 8 students from 178 schools will take part in the fifth annual Synergy Schools Solar Challenge, which will see them build and race their own solar-powered cars against other schools within their region.

A joint initiative between Synergy and the Science Teachers Association of WA (STAWA), the Challenge is designed to boost students’ interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects, while increasing their knowledge about renewable energy technology.

Following an early end to last year’s competition due to COVID-19, the Challenge has returned in 2021 and will take place in Bunbury, Geraldton, Kalgoorlie, Collie and Albany, in addition to the Perth metropolitan heats.

Synergy Chief Executive Officer Jason Waters said the Challenge was an excellent way to pique students’ interest in STEM subjects, as well as teach them more broadly about renewable energy.

“We are thrilled to see the Synergy Schools Solar Challenge return in 2021 and partner with STAWA for a fifth year, in what is both an innovative and team-work driven initiative for schools,” Mr Waters said.

“This competition not only equips students with basic engineering principles, it teaches them about the benefits of renewable energy, such as solar and batteries, in a fun and memorable way.”

STAWA CEO John Clarke said he was pleased to see the Challenge continue into its fifth year, with the metro competition reaching capacity and a number of new schools participating from regional WA.

“The Synergy Schools Solar Challenge is designed to give teachers a great framework, including all the resources and support they will need to really engage students in these crucial STEM areas,” Mr Clarke said.

“It has been exciting to watch the Challenge grow over the years, knowing that it is giving students the skills they will need in their future careers.”

The upcoming Challenge heats are as follows:

Bunbury - 9 March 2021: Newton Moore Senior High School
Collie - 10 March 2021: Amaroo Primary
Albany - 11 March 2021: North Albany Senior High School
North Metro - 16 March 2021: St Mark's Anglican Community School
South Metro - 18 March 2021: All Saints College
Kalgoorlie - 23 March 2021: Goldfields Baptist College
Geraldton - 25 March 2021: Champion Bay Senior High School
Grand Final - 30 March 2021: Bob Hawke College, Subiaco

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