Nine teams of solar powered model cars competed during the inaugural Junior Solar Sprint (JSS) competition held at the STEM Education and Outreach Center at Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD. The JSS is a nationwide competition funded by the Army Educational Outreach Program, which challenges teams of students from elementary and middle school to design, construct, and race small model cars powered entirely by solar energy.

Students prepare their solar powered vehicle for the championship heat races.

In preparation for the competition, students are guided by a parent, teacher, or mentor, and are encouraged to utilize and implement their knowledge of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) principles. Prior to the event, each team received a JSS kit with materials for assembling their model. Kits contained the required solar cell modules, an official solar motor, motor mounting brackets with screws, gears for motor shaft, and two alligator clips.

Said Dr. Sandra Young, a materials engineer with the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, "This is a fantastic STEM event for students where we continue to work to provide unique STEM opportunities. We saw some great engineering on-the-fly today as students worked on their models between races to improve their performance, but also interacted with other teams to learn more about how other teams built their cars differently."