Friends School of Minnesota’s 7th and 8th grade Engineering Club once again participated in the MRES Solar Boat Regatta. This boat race held at Baker Lake in Eden Prairie every spring. It is sponsored by the Minnesota Renewable Energy Society (MRES). The rules are pretty simple: boats are powered by the Sun. Each boat is limited to one 12 volt battery and one 85 watt solar panel. The boats are allowed to start the race with a fully charged battery (provided it was charged using using the solar panel). In terms of the boat itself – the rules are very open-ended. Some teams build boats from scratch while others modify existing boats.
This year, twelve 7th and 8th grade students in FSM’s engineering club raced a wooden boat they built from scratch. Last year, after doing their research, we bought plans for a “TNT” boat and began the boat-building process. Students were able to complete the hull of the boat for last year’s race. This year they finished decking the boat and built a steering system for the boat as well. In addition – they built a set of horses for working on the boat and a charging station for charging the boat’s battery using the solar panel. Finally – they built a website documenting their work (http://engineering.fsmn.org).
The regatta was held on Saturday May 21st which turned out to be a beautiful day for racing solar boats (sunny and calm). There were eight student entries from various middle and high schools. Usain Boat (FSM’s boat) performed very well. Despite a few steering issues the team took second place in the sprint race, first place in the slalom, and first place in the one hour endurance race meaning the team won first place overall! Later – the students also learned they won first place for their website.
-Steve Moe and Chris Dart, coaches