Students hit the water Friday with solar boats

Published 6:54 am Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A regatta — of sorts — tests the waters of Mill Pond later this week.

Austin High School students will try the water Friday morning with solar-powered boats constructed in Mark Raymond’s physics classes.

Those that pass the test, held at 9 a.m. Friday, will move on to compete in the Minnesota Renewable Energy Society’s (MRES) Solar Boat Regatta hosted annually on Lake Phalen in St. Paul.

“The solar boat regatta has provided us with a wonderful outlet for shaping our teaching,” Raymond said. “The students have been able to apply different areas of physics to the design and build of the solar boat from fluid dynamics to electrical wiring.”

Financial support from Austin Utilities allowed Riverland Community College to purchase 12-volt, off-grid solar photovoltaic (PV) panels, PV charge controllers and 12-volt electrical trolling motors that will be used by Raymond’s students.

Austin Utilities energy services representative Kelly Lady said renewable energy education should start at a young age.

“That is why we are excited to work with Riverland and Austin High School to create opportunities for our K-12 students to learn about energy concepts,” Lady said.

The MRES solar-powered boat regatta is in its 18th year. Teams from various Minnesota schools and organizations across Minnesota will compete at this year’s race May 22. The event is from 10 to 4 p.m. in St. Paul and includes slalom, speed, endurance and solar-only races in student, adult and experimental classes.

The public is invited to watch students hold the test race at Mill Pond. The launch will take place by the swimming pool parking lot Friday.

Solar boat test event

When: 9 a.m., Friday

Where: Mill Pond, near the swimming pool parking lot

Open to the public