Student Work | Mass STEM Hub

High School | HS Engineering | POE | Activity: POE H2 Solar Car | Design Thinking Award

Check out the student work submitted for real-world industry feedback! Learn more about submitting student work to receive real-world feedback here!

Grade: High School

PLTW Course: Principles of Engineering

Submission type: Activity: POE H2 Solar car

Project overview:  In this PLTW course students explore a broad range of engineering topics including mechanisms, the strength of structures and materials, and automation. Students develop skills in problem solving, research, and design while learning strategies for design process documentation, collaboration, and presentation.

In this solar car activity, students powered a small vehicle using different types of power sources: a solar panel, a fuel cell, and a battery.  Students use the electricity from the solar module to separate hydrogen from oxygen, harness the hydrogen, and then use the hydrogen as fuel.

Selected student submission materials:  

Link to full project: click here

Select Judge Feedback:  “I work at a structural engineering firm in Boston. At my job I design new structures and renovations to existing buildings. 

You did a great job testing your car in a variety of conditions and collecting data. It’s important to subject your design to a wide array of testing environments to see how it performs as this can help show you where there are issues with your design and room for improvement.

I really liked how you took careful notes and collected a lot of data to compare the modifications you made to the car. Having some numbers can really help you identify the best path forward.

Looking at your data I got a little confused – because the time didn’t have units, I thought the solar panel car traveled 22ft in just over a second, making it faster than the battery. It’s always good to include the units somewhere to limit confusion.

I think you’re right – varying the wheels would’ve provided some different results. Do you think you’d get a faster car with a bigger or smaller set of wheels?

Great job with your project; I hope you found the exercise interesting. If you did, you could make it a career in the STEM fields. Again, good job with your project and best of luck in the future!”

-Structural Engineer, Structural Engineers Association of Massachusetts (SEAMASS)

“I work for Tighe & Bond, an engineering and environmental consulting company where I manage a variety of infrastructure projects.  

Your use of pictures and tables helped to show the basic design and your testing.   Your presentation described the problem and your tasks.  You clearly described some of your challenges.  It was good to include multiple trials to show that could reliably replicate your results.   I would better describe the changes you made to your car before you summarized the testing.   You used good engineering concepts to test your two battery cars out in multiple scenarios.      

Similar to project I work on, we often have to look at different ways to meet our project needs, taking into account the ability to construct something, environmental impacts and the ability to meet the project needs that is also affordable.  

This project is a good way to identify different ways to design products, and how those changes can impact how effectively they work.  Testing multiple times, in different scenarios, can provide you with valuable information.”

-Vice President, Tighe & Bond

Industry Award: Design Thinking Award

School: B.M.C. Durfee High School

Teacher: Susan Black

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