FLORHAM PARK, NJ – A team of students from Green Brook won at the statewide Junior Solar Sprints on Wednesday, and will move on to another competition this Saturday in Philadelphia.

“While we fought a lot in the beginning of building the car, it made our drive to win stronger and we became closer as a team,” said team member Victoria Li.

Fellow team member Demetra Chang agreed that the contest was important to their ability to work together and learn new skills.  “As a second year participant, my knowledge expanded further than before in terms of engineering and teamwork,” Chang said.

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Deeba Shokrani, Michelle Yang, Chang and Li built the Green Car as part of the Green Brook Middle School annual competition for students in the Gifted and Talented Education (G.A.T.E) science program.  Junior Solar Sprint projects are judged based on craftmanship, engineering, use of recycled materials and documentation. 

Four teams won at the Middle School on April 25, and were invited to the Region 5 competition in Frenchtown on May 16th.  The Green Car team, along with two other Green Brook teams, were awarded at the Region 5 meet and moved on to the state finals in Florham Park yesterday where the Green Car won for best Documentation Portfolio.

“Focusing on certain categories helped us achieve our goals,” said Yang, noting that their decision to work hard on documenting their car design and implementation paid off in the win.

As part of the Junior Solar Sprints program teams of middle school students are given basic kits to build their car around, including a solar panel, battery pack and small motor.  The cars were required to meet certain criteria, including that most materials should be recycled and the car had to be able to carry an empty aluminum can.

“The experience of building a solar powered car has taught me so much about cooperation, compromise, sacrifice, and alternative forms of energy” said Shokrani.

The Junior Solar Sprints are sponsored by TransOptions to encourage middle school students to get involved in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education.   TransOptions covers all the costs, along with local and regional sponsors, to ensure that all students regardless of economic circumstances have a chance to compete.