AUBURN — Fifty-six middle school teams from Maine arrived at the Owls Head Transportation Museum on June 7, prepared to test their model solar electric cars in the 20th running of the Maine Junior Solar Sprint.

The sun cooperated, and at day’s end the two fastest vehicles over the 20 meter track belonged to Auburn Middle School’s Falcons. First place for Speed went to “The Chargers” (Dillon Rowe, Reece Rodrique) and second place to “The Cheetah” (Curtis Ouellette, Crystle Cloutier), which sported a tail that was removable for racing.

“The Chargers” went on to earn a gold medal for Kids’ Choice and silver for Technical Merit, while “The Cheetah” took silver for Kids’ Choice and Innovation.

Junior Solar Sprint participants are given a solar panel and motor and challenged to create a functioning electric vehicle that can run on sunlight. In effect these students become engineers, designing, building and testing their cars until they perform to their satisfaction.

Jim Rowe, technology and engineering teacher at AMS, mentors the Auburn teams and has watched his charges bring home myriad awards over the years.

The Sprint is coordinated by the Maine Energy Education Program. Principal sponsor is the Governor’s Energy Office, with additional support from ReVision Energy, the Natural Resources Council of Maine and “Friends of MEEP.”

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