Racing at the speed of light

Kids harness energy from the sun to compete in solar car races.

On a hot and sunny day, 101 teams of fifth graders from all the Island elementary schools gathered to race solar-powered miniature cars against their friends.

The race gave students the opportunity to build their own cars and decorate them how they saw fit. Some had striped streamers flowing from them, while others were built specifically for speed and aerodynamics.

Some schools had specifications limiting car designs. “Our school had to use a can when we built the cars,” said Emily Coogan of the Tisbury School. “I wanted to make my car with an aerodynamic design, so it goes really fast.”

Another Tisbury School student, Grady Stalgrin, said he likes playing with his friends and seeing how their cars came out. “I like doing this every year, because I get to see what my friends made, and then we get to race, which is really fun,” Grady said.

Edgartown School student Jonah Mafcher said he loves seeing the end result of his hard work in building his car. “I just like to see how everything comes out, and seeing your car race against other cars is cool,” Jonah said.

Jonah’s father, Greg, watched as his son tinkered with the engine of his car. “I am so impressed with Jonah,” Mafcher said. “I was never very good with building or engineering when I was a kid, but he is just a natural. He really loves to create things.”

Edgartown School shop teacher Greg Pattison said he loves the idea of using solar power in school projects and events.

“This isn’t something that happened when I was a kid, but it’s so rewarding to see them have fun and explore their creativity,” Pattison said. “Some kids struggle with other subjects, but then they come into shop class and excel — it’s really incredible.”


Solar car race list of winners

Charter School

Speed Awards

1: Amma O’Gorman and Floyd Hershey

2: Warren Cabana, Grace Bennett-Rock, and Lily Fisher

3:  Koko Capece and Tripp Murphy

Technical Merit, 1st Place: Amma O’Gorman and Floyd Hershey

Knowledge and Design, 1st Place: Amma O’Gorman and Floyd Hershey


Chilmark/West Tisbury Schools

Speed Award

1: Lathrop Keene and Clause Smith

2: Brody Royal and Ethan Hartmann

3:  Hunter Broderick

Technical Merit, 1st Place: Walter Prescott and Kein Davis

Knowledge and Design, 1st Place: Hunter Broderick


Oak Bluffs School

Speed Award:

1 (two-way tie):  Jacobi Harris and Sophia Alves/Jack Baer and Amanda Silva

2: Sampson Mallory and Tahirah Waite

Technical Merit, 1st Place: Guilherme Oliveira and Soraya Randolph

Knowledge and Design, 1st Place: Guilherme Oliveiriea and Soraya Randolph


Tisbury School

Speed Award

1: Victoria Dias, Ronan Mullin, and Isabell Webster

2: Maverick Pill and Jane Coogan

Technical Merit, 1st Place (three-way tie): Ryan Ferella and Chris Marcas, Victoria Dias/Ronan Mullin and Isabell Webster/Gabby Lino, Bailen Darack, and Kamryn Bishop

Knowledge and Design, 1st Place: Maverick Pill and Jane Coogan


Edgartown School

Speed Award

1: Adriana Young and Georgia Deroche

2: Ruby Dellorusso and Kahlia Nascimento

3:  Zandre Miller

Technical Merit, 1st Place: Harrison Lezwus and Christopher Cardoza

Knowledge and Design, 1st Place (two-way tie): Bryma Sarva and Hannah McCormick/Anine Galila and Paige Smith