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Local 4-H students race solar cars with Lake Land College’s Technology Division - Lake Land College, Mattoon Illinois

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Local 4-H students race solar cars with Lake Land College’s Technology Division

Students of the Coles, Cumberland, Moultrie/Douglas and Shelby County 4-H recently visited Lake Land College to test out their engineering and green technology knowledge. Nearly 30 students came to campus to race model solar cars each team crafted for the big day. The event was in coordination with the University of Illinois Extension 4-H Youth Development Program. 

“The weather outside was a little brutal,” said Mark Dyer, LLC program coordinator. “Since it wasn’t very sunny, we improvised and set up a race track in one of the West Building labs. After a little trial and error, we constructed the race track on lab benches and mounted strong lights to power the solar cars.” 

For the race, each county trialed all of their solar cars and decided which was fastest. Then, the fastest car from each group raced for time in the championship round.  Each county had one practice run, then two complete trials for time.  The two trials for each county were averaged to give each county a race time. 

The champion this year was Shelby County, and according to Dyer, that team’s run time was noticeably faster than the others.  

“Shelby County’s entry ‘Jackie’ was modified to make it lighter,” said Dyer.  “By drilling away some of the unnecessary plastic parts and installing racing ball bearing bushings onto the car, Shelby County sped the fastest across the finish line.”

Dyer said it was nice to see the thought and initiative that went into the winning entry and he hopes it inspired others teams to think outside the box. Members from the winning Shelby County team received a gift card to the movies for their exceptional effort. 

In addition to the solar car race, 4-Hers toured the renewable energy technologies at Lake Land, which included visiting the community garden, the electric vehicle charging station, the photo voltaic roof installations, the educational wind turbines, and the LLC Lightning Bug, an electric vehicle built by Lake Land faculty and staff.  The poor weather didn’t deter the group from seeing the inside of the 100 kW turbines on campus. For this, Dyer connected a live video feed from the south turbine nacelle, which gave the students a tour of what the nacelle looks like from the inside. 

The solar car race was one part of the Sustainable Communities SPIN Clubs.  4-Hers from Coles, Cumberland, Moultrie/Douglas and Shelby counties have been participating in the Sustainable Communities SPIN Clubs since September 2012.  These clubs are a partnership between University of Illinois Extension, 4-H Youth Development and Lake Land College Technology Division.  Each month students meet, discuss an issue related to sustainability and then engage in hands-on activities pertaining to the issue.  

Additionally, throughout the months, the members have been designing, planning and building their own “sustainable community.”  The culminating event for these SPIN Clubs will be on March 2.  As part of the Coles County Farm Bureau Mall Days, each club will present their “sustainable community” to a panel of judges.  The presentations will be from 10 a.m. to noon at the Cross County Mall.  

For more information on 4-H Youth Development Programs contact your local University of Illinois Extension office.  To learn more about the Technology Division at Lake Land College, visit: www.lakeland.cc.il.us/as/tec/index.cfm. 

 



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