Driven by the speed and spirit of competition, middle school students of the past decade have been putting their knowledge and creative problem-solving skills to the test by participating in Junior Solar Sprint. Proposals are now being requested in the effort to identify a new organization to facilitate the program. 

Funded by the U.S. Army since 2001, Junior Solar Sprint offers resources to empower teachers, mentors, and other community members to engage youth in designing, building, and racing model solar cars. This request for proposals marks a transition in the program to include the development and management of online resources for teachers and mentors and an active online competition that provides opportunities for participation by any student with Internet access. While Army-funded Junior Solar Sprint competitions have historically been focused in the northeast, the program will expand to include a national championship for students across the country.

Junior Solar Sprint is sponsored by the U.S. Army’s Educational Outreach Program and is part of the Youth Science Cooperative Outreach Agreement consortium led by Continuing and Professional Education at Virginia Tech. The outreach programs are designed to provide educational opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) to students of all ages. In addition to Virginia Tech, consortium members include the Academy of Applied Science, The George Washington University, the University of New Hampshire, the Technology Student Association, and the U.S. Army.             

“Although these kids may be motivated by the thrill of competition and the fun of designing, building, and racing their own solar cars, what they are doing is developing problem solving and technical skills that have real-world applications,” says Donna Augustine, program director of the Youth Science Cooperative Outreach Agreement.  “These youngsters are our country’s next generation of scientists and engineers.”

The deadline for proposal submissions is Oct. 17. For more information, visit the news section of Continuing and Professional Education’s homepage.

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