Solar car brightens up Wednesday morning at BES
University of Calgary Solar Team shows off car that doesn't need gas
For a few hours on May 2, Barrhead Elementary School was the home of a shining example of technology as the University of Calgary Solar Team paid a visit.
The team brought with them their solar-powered car, named Schulich Axiom, which they built from the ground up with an eye to racing against some of the top solar car teams in the world.
Students in grades 4-6 at the elementary school, and the Physics 30 classes at Barrhead Composite High School were given the opportunity to take in a presentation about the car and what the purpose of the team is, said teacher Sarah Workman.
Workman had a fairly big part to play in bringing the car to Barrhead, as her husband was a member of the team when he was in university.
“It’s a great opportunity for the students to see the car and see what other students can do and what they themselves could do,” she said. “It’s just a cool experience.”
Workman added that for the Grade 4 students, the car fit into their curriculum.
After they had seen the car, some students spoke about what they thought of it.
“It was cool to see,” said Lysette Umwali. “It looked futuristic.”
She added it’s something she could see herself doing in university, even though that’s many years off.
And was there anything about the car that she thought stood out?
“It’s cool that it doesn’t need gas,” she said.
Adam Mueller also spoke up.
“It was cool how light it was,” he said, referring to the car’s weight of only 180 kilograms.
For Mueller, the coolest part was how the car’s driver got into and out of the cab, by climbing over the solar panels to get in, and then jumping off the roll cage to get out.
Prior to seeing the car, the students received a presentation outlining some of the accomplishments of the Solar Team, as well as an explanation of how the car works.
The team started in 2004, and consists solely of undergraduate students. Since its founding, the club has raced in such prestigious international races as the American Solar Challenge and the World Solar Challenge in Australia.
There are a number of reasons the team builds and races solar cars. Some of these include promoting sustainable energy, promoting renewable resources, raising awareness of the viability of alternatively powered vehicles, and of course, to have fun.
Jodi Bengtson is the team’s communications manager. She said the team does regular tours across Alberta in the smaller communities when the team is not in class.
“It’s a chance to show the car to kids who usually don’t get the chance to see a solar car,” she said. “It’s also a chance to see Alberta.”
When university classes are on, she said the team will do short trips to schools in the Calgary area.
Although Bengtson has never driven the car, she said drivers have said it is surprisingly peppy in getting close to its top speed of 130 km/h. And it’s street legal as well, she added. For much of the journey north from Calgary, the car traveled under its own power.
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