One of the fun things at Tokyo’s annual Eco Products exhibition this weekend is a solar car – but not just any solar car. This one was built as part of an education program led by Koto Ward mayor Takaaki Yamazaki, in a bid to get children excited about scientific technology and the environment.
The solar car was built as part of a project called the “Solar Car Challenge Program,” for Koto Ward students ranging in age from elementary to high school age. The students publicly appealed to ward residents, businesses and universities located within the ward for (presumably financial) cooperation, and the project kicked off. “Building a solar car from scratch was a really good experience,” said 9th grader Kota Tsukahara.
Kids Can Do Surprising Things
The finished product, perhaps surprisingly for something apparently carried out largely by teenagers, managed to finish 10th at the solar car race in Suzuka last August. Tsukahara was put in charge of energy management. “I ran calculations on my laptop every week,” he said. “To figure out what we needed to do to finish the race. Then we instructed the driver.”
Tsukahara’s instructions were apparently pretty good; when the car reached the finish line, the energy remaining in the battery was close to zero. “Next year, we’re aiming for a podium finish,” Tsukahara said, adding that some day, he wants to take the car to the World Solar Challenge in Australia. If he succeeds, he’ll be in good company.
If Japan is aiming for a greener future by educating the kids today, they’ve gotten a pretty good start. How would you like to see students in your area working on developing green technology (cars or otherwise)? Let us know in the comments, below.