UHS students and many others visit UCI-hosted Solar Decathlon

UHS students and many others visit UCI-hosted Solar Decathlon

Decathlon teams race their energy-efficient race cars during the decathlon’s California Challenge races.

On October 10, University High School (UHS) Earth Systems Science classes, led by Ms. Julie Pomerleau (Science Dept.), Mr. Tinh Tran (Science Dept.) and Ms. Lisa Miller (Science Dept.), attended the Solar Decathlon at the Orange County Great Park. Students participated in workshops during which they learned about energy conservation through demonstrations of modern light bulb technology and engaged in game-show team competitions about recycling and power conversions. Ms. Pomerleau said, “This was a very interesting trip and fit well with spring semester topics for our ESS classes, which focus on the impact of renewable resources and how the Earth will look like in a century. I wish we had more time to visit the models.”

Solar Decathlon teams have created nineteen solar-powered model homes which are on display in two rows widely spaced across the Great Park. Visitors can ask team members questions at their respective solar houses and also take guided tours, available every 15 minutes around the displays, lasting for 30-60 minutes. Judges grade models on efficiency, presentation and budget for construction.  They have nominated Team Capitol DC in first place, but the majority of visitors have voted for North Carolina. Nearby, there is a Competitors Exhibition where each team has a booth to answer attendees’ questions.

Irvine is the first city to host the Solar Decathlon outside of Washington D.C. According to the University of Irvine California (UCI) Samueli Engineering School, UCI was selected to host this international competition because of its dedicated efforts in planning the XPO (exposition) and its recent advances in research in the fields of engineering,  environmental conservation and biological sciences. The competition has attracted attendees not only from colleges across the nation, but also from local high schools, including UHS. Volunteers from UHS have helped direct attendees around the park and provided visitors with informational booklets. Emily Walker, a volunteer coordinator for the Orange County Great Park said, “Having the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2013 and the XPO (which includes “energy-efficient races” between team-made vehicles) debut for the first time in Irvine is both inspiring and educational for local high school students…this event provides a unique opportunity to speak to college students in your field of interest.”

 Following her science teacher’s recommendation, Becky Shane (Jr.) attended the Decathlon. Shane said, “My favorite part was seeing so many people display houses that they have worked on for two years. It’s really cool that Irvine was picked to host because it is such a huge event.” Students such as Stacy Moroz (Jr.) attended the event because of their interest in science, engineering and architecture. Moroz said, “I’m really glad that we’re striving to achieve more environmentally friendly and energy conserving households.”

Staff Writer