High school students celebrate Earth Week with solar car races on campus


Emanuel Espinoza

High school students participating in the solar races in the quad on Wednesday. Students from Cordova High School, Laguna Creek High School and the School of Engineering and Sciences competed in the races.

In honor of Earth Week, the campus hosted solar car races in the quad on Wednesday.

Sacramento Electric Vehicles Infrastructure took part in the event by displaying two solar-powered electric cars, which were a Chevy Bolt and a Genesis GV60. Eugen Dunlap, board member of SacEV, said he asked SacEv to come to the event.

Dunlap said he took a solar class last spring semester at Cosumnes River College. He said he hoped the event would bring awareness to the environment.

“The people involved in this event are interested in everything electric and with the college having environmental buildings,” Dunlap said. “Having solar classes, I think there is some interest here.”

High school students across the Sacramento area, ranging from Laguna Creek High School, Cordova High School and the School of Engineering and Sciences, all took part in the event.

All of the students that participated in the solar races had to build their own environmentally sustainable car for the competition.

SMUD Public Information Officer Gamaliel Ortiz said this was the second time he was involved in a solar-car race with SMUD. He said the event was and that it is a great opportunity for high school students to learn about renewable energy.

“The students get creative with their designs, they come out here, test them out and race them against other students for a competition,” Ortiz said. “They’re learning about S.T.E.M. (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education, which is really important. SMUD is moving towards zero carbon, so that’s why it’s important for kids to learn about solar and other S.T.E.M. content.”

Laguna Creek High School freshmen, Jennie Becker and Justin Vuong, both of whom were 15 years old, were among the many participants of the event.

Becker said she is part of the Green Technology Academy at her high school and that all of the freshmen students took part in the race and focused on making their cars sustainable.

Becker added that the car she and Vuong built was made out of fast food waste, such as McDonald’s wrappers. Becker said the process took a couple of weeks to build the car and to get it ready to work.

“The most difficult part was we had to use a laser cutter to be able to make the base and to make our car adjustable for the angles of the sun,” Becker said. “So that took a couple of days, which was really long.”

Ryan Connally, lead faculty and department chair in construction and technology, said the event was made to help improve awareness of sustainability for students at CRC.

“I hope the event continues to grow in the coming years and that we get more participation from the faculty and staff,” Connally said. “We also want to encourage student clubs to participate and help share what they do.”