Fox4now.com – By Karl Fortier. CREATED Mar 21, 2015
FORT MYERS, Fla. – Teams from Southwest Florida High Schools gathered at Florida Gulf Coast University Saturday to show off their wheels for their own kind of “street heat” at the 3rd annual Solar Go-Kart Challenge.
Students from thirteen high schools took part in a race on the loop road around FGCU’s campus, driving Go-Karts modified to run on solar power.
“Each of the high schools was tasked with taking a Go-Kart, and retrofitting it with solar panels and battery packs,” said Laura Frost, director of FGCU’s Whitaker Center for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM.)
The defending champs from South Fort Myers high school decided they could improve on their winning Kart from last year.
“We used to have our solar panels on the top,” said South Fort Myers senior Allen Kujrakovic. “We actually moved them to the front and back. It lowers our center of gravity, and it looks pretty cool.”
Many of the other Karts entered in this year’s race did have their panels mounted on top of the vehicle.
While many of the students said they worked on their school’s solar Kart as an after-school project, they say that they learned a few things in the process.
“What we did was we took a gas engine, and we exchanged it for an electric engine,” said Gulf Coast freshman Cameron Teeters. This was Gulf Coast High School’s first time taking part in the challenge.
“We had seven weeks to work on the solar-powered Go-Kart, and what interested me the most was the amount of temwork, and the amount of studiousness that went through this,” added Matthew Holzaepfel, a Gulf Coast sophomore.
Frost says that while the speed of the Karts is limited to about about 30 miles per hour for the race, solar-powered cars, if built, could go much faster.
“We could definitely be driving around in a solar-powered vehicle,” she said.