Congupna Primary School wins awards at model solar vehicle challenge

By Liz Mellino

Among the gum trees at Congupna Primary School is a solar boat racing paradise.

A racing pool, specifically designed for solar boats, was recently built in the school grounds so students could practise for the Deakin University model solar vehicle challenge.

And all the extra effort has paid off, with students taking out first, third and fourth placings in Victoria at the event in Melbourne at the weekend.

School principal Adam Cleary said the students entered their boats into the regional junior boat category.

‘‘We finished first, second and third in the regionals and, after you win there, you go and compete against all the metros and we came first, third and fourth,’’ he said.

‘‘We are going to Sydney now in six weeks’ time for the national titles.’’

Eleven students from Years 4 to 6 spent months handcrafting the solar boats from styrofoam, solar panels and specialised propellers.

Mr Cleary said the school entered the challenge each year because it was a great way for students to work collaboratively on a specific project.

The school is now gearing up for the nationals and Mr Cleary said they were confident they could take out a win after investing in some specialised equipment.

‘‘It’s actually quite technical and the students do a lot of refining, testing and planning for the race on the day,’’ he said.

‘‘We talk about learning and having a skills-based education ... we’re giving them the skills in order to succeed at solar boats, but we are also giving them skills for life.’’