After a three-year break during the pandemic the New Mexico Electric Car Challenge came roaring back with around 300 middle school students taking part in the competition Nov. 19 at Van Buren Middle School in Albuquerque.
The statewide challenge, sponsored by Sandia National Laboratories and Los Alamos National Laboratory, is a STEM program for students in grades six, seven and eight to build the fastest model electric car. Judges also award prizes for design and research. Participating schools came from Albuquerque, Bayard, Carlsbad, Española, Ohkay Owingeh, Roswell, Ruidoso, Santa Fe, Taos and White Rock.
Student teams began their work in September, with the competition the culmination of weeks of work connecting science and math concepts with hands-on activities outside the classroom.
Carlos Vigil Middle School in Española entered three teams, with their Team 3 coming first in the race component and third in the overall competition. Carlos Vigil Team 2 came second in the race part of the event.
“The best part of this process, without a doubt, was seeing how excited our students were when they competed against other teams, seeing their hard work and time pay off,” said math teacher Emmanuel Espinoza from Carlos Vigil, who has worked with his school's teams for several years.
As well as Los Alamos National Laboratory’s role in organizing the event, Laboratory operator Triad supported the competition with a grant, and four LANL volunteers also served as judges.
The goal of the Electric Car Challenge is to present engineering, math and science concepts in a fun and exciting way, while also developing teamwork and team-building skills. Teams also get the chance to enhance their presentation skills.