• McKinley Middle School students design and build the model car they will race in the New Mexico Electric Car Challenge on November 22 at Albuquerque’s Highland High School.
     McKinley Middle School students design and build the model car they will race in the New Mexico Electric Car Challenge on November 22 at Albuquerque’s Highland High School.

New Mexico Electric Car Challenge to Rev STEM Students' Imaginations

November 20, 2014
By Sandra Jontz
E-mail About the Author

Get your motors running …

Students from 27 middle schools across New Mexico—some who might aspire to be automotive engineers—will vie this Saturday in Albuquerque in a race, a design competition and an optional oral presentation. The New Mexico Electric Car Challenge will pit 46 teams against each other as students use science and math concepts in creative ways to create the winning design.

The competition is presented by Sandia National Laboratories, the Los Alamos National Laboratory, Public Service Company of New Mexico, Albuquerque Public Schools, Intel, Air Force Research Laboratory and Northrop Grumman Corporation.

“This event introduces students to engineering careers,” says Amy Tapia, Sandia’s manager of community involvement in a press release. “Students discover that, in engineering, there isn’t just one right answer, and things don’t always go as expected.”

The teams will receive a lithium-ion battery and a direct-current motor, which must be used to power the vehicle, and a kit with a chassis, wheels and gears. They will be challenged to experiment with different body styles and materials to improve their cars’ performance on a 10-meter racetrack. (That’s slightly less than 33 feet for non-metric users.) The race involves five qualifying runs and a final head-to-head elimination tournament. Volunteer judges will evaluate the designs for innovation, craftsmanship and appearance, and rate the students’ oral presentations. The winning teams’ schools will receive cash awards.

The New Mexico Electric Car Challenge is a result of the collaboration and commitment of several partners to advance science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs and opportunities for schoolchildren.

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