sollar roller

Solar Rollers

Solar Rollers is a simple concept with limitless possibilities. Your team has a certain area to collect sunlight to power your car, and you will soon engage in a friendly competition with other teams who have access to the same amount of energy from the sun. In the process of Solar Rolling, you'll design, build and test a car while developing critical thinking and teamwork skills. All the while you will be focused on a sophisticated and complete clean energy system.

Solar Rollers comes from a core belief that young people can and do change the world. They bring passion and energy and fresh thinking to the world's challenges. And climate change may be the greatest challenge in the history of humanity. We need you working on this.

Climate change is depressing, it's terrifying, and perhaps worst of all it's boring. Nobody wants to focus on this problem for long - although many dedicated scientists and activists do. So how do we make something exciting and fun out of this mess? With racecars.

We provide students with a more interesting and specific problem to attack. The effort requires focus, dedication and problem-solving and the challenge is also fun. For teachers, we provide a way to teach energy-based solutions to climate change - which is the part of climate change we all want to focus on.

Solar Rollers was created to make energy education truly engaging. It is a relentlessly hands-on design challenge, a model proven to connect deeply with high school students. It is designed to be accessible, affordable, deliverable anywhere and scalable. Importantly, it is designed to be iterative, meaning your team's designs will evolve and improve year after year, squeezing more out of the sun's energy and pushing the competition ever forward.

We look forward to seeing what your team comes up with this year. And the year after that. And we look forward to seeing how you take the concepts from Solar Rollers and apply them to your own life on personal, professional and planetary levels.

First Steps

Secure the necessary safety equipment:

At different points in the build some students will require:

    • Safety glasses

    • Hearing protection

    • Dust masks

    • Latex or nitrile gloves

Secure the necessary tools:

You will need a set of small hand tools (screwdrivers, crescent wrench, pliers, allen wrenches, wire cutters, file etc.) for the entire build and for race day. Some specific tools are provided within the kit.

Also, at some point during the build you will need:

    • Multimeter (voltage and current reader)

    • Jigsaw (each kit contains a u-shank abrasive blade for cutting chassis material)

    • 2 clamps to hold a thin workpiece down to a table or desk

    • Dremel tool with abrasive bits

    • Drill and bits (1/8” bit used heavily)

    • Soldering Iron >30 watts (adjustable soldering station with multiple tips helpful)

    • Hair dryer or heat gun

    • Serrated bread knife

Break your team into small groups by area of expertise:

If you assign specific groups to research specific areas, then those small expert groups can be in charge of the area they know the most about. Everyone can still work on every part of the car, but if there is a difference of opinion the team of experts makes the call within that area.

Recommended areas of expertise are:

    • Front Suspension/Steering (including servo and transmitter/receiver)

    • Rear Suspension, Axle/Differential and Gearing

    • Motor and Electronic Speed Control (ESC)

  • Solar array

    • Battery (including battery care and charging with both charger and solar)

    • Foam panel and foam bumpers

    • Driving/Tires

    • Graphics

    • 20 Questions

Answer basic team questions:

Where will you meet and work? A workshop is ideal but these cars have been built in classrooms, libraries, and copy rooms.

Where will you store equipment? This can be even more important than the work space.

When will you meet? A regular schedule from the start ensures progress.

Start considering the most basic design questions according to your team philosophy:

Light and agile? Powerful and heavier? Top speed vs. efficiency? Optimized for a sunny or an overcast day?