Beginning Friday (May 15), 41 teams from high schools (see accompanying list) in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego and Ventura counties will race hand-built boats they have equipped with solar panels, batteries, electrical systems, drive trains and rudders at Metropolitan’s Lake Skinner in southwest Riverside County’s Temecula Valley. The competition also features multimedia water conservation public service messages created by the student teams.
"Solar Cup supplements textbook curriculum with hands-on experience giving these bright students an opportunity to learn about California’s natural resources, while fostering an interest in science, math, environmental and engineering careers," said Solar Cup coordinator Julie Miller, a state-certified teacher in Metropolitan’s education programs
"As drought conditions persist, we are confident these students will lead their generation in creating a new normal for water conservation based on insight gained from this experience," Miller added.
About 10,000 students have participated in Solar Cup since the inaugural event launched in 2002 with just eight boats. The program is a team-based educational competition that allows students to apply their skills in math, physics, engineering and communications, while learning about Southern California’s water sources, resource management, conservation and alternative energy development.
The competition begins with teams being put through a series of qualifying events to ensure boats meet rules and are safe and seaworthy. Saturday, May 16, will feature single-seat, 16-foot boats outfitted with solar-collection panels in endurance races around a 1-kilometer course.
Sunday, May 17, is highlighted by 200-meter sprint races—in which the solar panels are removed and the boats are powered by solar energy stored in batteries. The races will be followed by an awards ceremony, with trophies awarded in veteran and rookie divisions for teams with the highest points, as well as to teams honored for "Hottest-Looking Boat," teamwork and sportsmanship.
The races are open to the public and easily visible from the lake shoreline. The event takes place from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. with free admission and parking. Lake Skinner is at 37701 Warren Road in the Temecula Valley community of Winchester in southwest Riverside County—about 10 miles northeast of the Rancho California Road exit off Interstate 15.
Since building identical hulls last November from kits supplied by Metropolitan, students have worked nights and weekends to maximize their boats’ endurance, speed and mechanical and electrical efficiencies. In advance of the three-day event, teams are now fine-tuning their hand-built boats.
In addition to 32 teams in the veterans division, Solar Cup features nine teams in a rookie division for first-time participating schools. Teams also are divided into four regions—the Foothill, Central & Bay, Inland Empire and South Counties regions.
Teams earn points in the competition, along with totals from technical inspections, completion of technical reports and creation of a public service message project. The messages focus on water conservation in the form of a 30- to 60-second, self-scripted and produced, conservation video or audiotape; a brochure; or another related project under the theme, "Don’t waste another minute wasting water."
Event videos and photos from past Solar Cup events can be found here (under Education Programs at Metropolitan’s website, mwdh2o.com.)