Hayden Loarie and Ramses Lara both 7th graders at Joan MacQueen Middle School won the 7th annual San Diego Junior Solar Sprint competition this past weekend at the San Diego Electrical Training Center.
Sponsored by Sullivan Solar Power, the Junior Solar Sprint (JSS) provides a hands-on opportunity for students in grades five through eight to apply science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) concepts, creativity, teamwork, and problem solving skills as they design, construct and race a solar-powered car.
Team “Dan” as named by Lara and Loarie, took home 4 out of the 6 engineering awards for design and swept the competition taking first place in all of their heats, including the final overall race. “I have sent teams to this competition since it’s inception, but have never had a team take nearly every award possible!” stated Brendan Casey former science teacher at JMMS, who attended the event with his wife, Karen Casey, the boys’ teacher.
Hayden and Ramses competed as representatives of their First Lego League (FLL) class at JMMS. Also participating this weekend from FLL were 6th graders, Nash Havin and Trevor Miller, whose car made it to the second round of competition.
In it’s first year, the JMMS First Lego League class has also competed in the Fly My Ride Competition at the San Diego Air and Space Museum and the Lego Robotics Competition where they made it to the second round at Legoland California, almost unheard of for a first year team.
The elective class is taught by Karen Casey and Kim Poulter and is fast gaining popularity among the students.
The FLL lab was funded in large part by specified donations from the Alpine Education Foundation (AEF). The FLL competition tables used by the class were generously built by Paul Meyerott, the husband of JMMS’s own principal, Theresa Meyerott. Mrs. Meyerott, a proponent of STEM, is working on creating an engineering pathway at JMMS so many more students will be able to participate in enriching experiences like FLL.