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MRS Fuel Cell Challenge

Posted: Mon Nov 27, 2006 12:57 pm
by shawn
I'm at the race right now, observing teams of students testing and adjusting their cars, using the new double-PEM cells from h-tec. Some cars are almost as fast as Junior Solar Sprint contenders, but many are struggling with the guide-wire or gearing.

Fuel Cell Challenge a pedagogical challenge

Posted: Wed Nov 29, 2006 8:51 pm
by shawn
I left the race happy to see students engaged in the engineering-design process, but upset at the dangling problems built into the way the event is organized.
Many teachers present agreed that the competition should include awards for categories besides speed. Both this year and last, the only teams that stayed to the end were the five (out of about twenty) fastest teams, so the speech by the Materials Research Scientist went unheard by most of the teams. Junior Solar Sprint, a close cousin of this competition, doesn't have that problem, at least here in the Northeast where competitors win medals in innovation, technical merit, and craftmanship. Every team stays to the end to see if they won one of these, even if their car wasn't fast at all. There's even a students' choice award based on peer-review!
Fuel Cell Sprint awards could include special categories like storage, weight, craftsmanship, visual appeal, teamship, posters, etc.
Labor shouldn't be a problem, since there were many more volunteers per team than Junior Solar Sprint events, and presumably more money. I volunteered to help twice, and nobody seemed to need me.