Tucson, March 10 - A team of three high school students from Sonoran Science Academy Davis-Monthan, Jeremy Zimprich, Zachary Bennett, and Nicholas Pratt, won three separate awards at Southern Arizona Research, Science & Engineering Fair (SARSEF) Awards ceremony, held on Saturday, March 9th.
The trio is a part of an eight student team competing in Racing the Sun, a high school solar kart competition organized by Tech Park Arizona. As a part of their dual enrollment ENG102 class, students have not been only building and improving a solar go-kart, but also have been conducting rigorous engineering research to find innovative means to increase the energy efficiency of the intricate electrical systems used to harvest sunlight and power the movement of the kart.
While mechanical and solar teams in the class focused on other aspects of the efficiency challenge, the electrical team noticed that the four 6 volt batteries in the kart were not being depleted at the same rate, thus causing the kart to stop working even before all the harvested power was used up.
As a result of their research, the team decided to integrate an electric charge equalizer, and tested the change in efficiency. The team found out that the system was able to completely exhaust all four batteries at the same rate before the motor would no longer function, thus causing a significant efficiency increase without requiring more sunlight input.
For their efforts, the team was rewarded on Saturday by winning 1st place in the Electrical & Mechanical Engineering category; a $2,500 University of Arizona scholarship for each student; and the Langham Mechanical Engineering Award: Innovation in Mechanical Engineering.
The team are also selected as finalists for the Intel Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) and qualified for a fully paid trip to Intel ISEF, which will be held in Phoenix, AZ, May 12-17th.