More than 700 school students put their engineering skills to the test this month, going head to head against each other in a series of miniature solar car racing championships.
Year 6 and Year 8 students from 178 schools took part in the fifth annual Synergy Schools Solar Challenge, which sees them build and race their own solar-powered cars against other schools within their region.
A joint initiative between Synergy and the Science Teachers Association of WA (STAWA), the Challenge is designed to boost students' interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects, while increasing their knowledge about renewable energy technology.
Following an early end to last year's competition due to COVID-19, the Challenge returned in Bunbury, Geraldton, Kalgoorlie, Collie and Albany, in addition to the Perth heats.
The challenge culminated with the Grand Finals at Bob Hawke College in Subiaco last week, where Cowaramup Primary School's Year 6 team placed second, behind Rockingham Beach Primary School.
Cowaramup PS teacher William Crawford said the challenge was a great experience for teachers and students.
"It has been amazing to watch the kids' problem-solving skills and their teamwork throughout this competition - it perfectly embodies the STEM skills that we've been teaching them in the classroom," Mr Crawford said.
In the 2021 event, 141 schools participated, fielding 113 Year 6 teams and 71 Year 8 teams with a total of 732 students across the State.
Synergy Chief Executive Officer Jason Waters said the Challenge was an excellent way to pique students' interest in STEM subjects, as well as teach them more broadly about renewable energy.
"We are thrilled to see the challenge return in 2021, in what is both an innovative and teamwork driven initiative for schools," Mr Waters said.
"This competition not only equips students with basic engineering principles, it teaches them about the benefits of renewable energy, such as solar and batteries, in a fun and memorable way."
STAWA CEO John Clarke said he was pleased to see a number of new schools participating from regional WA.
"The challenge is designed to give teachers a great framework, including all the resources and support they will need to really engage students in these crucial STEM areas," Mr Clarke said.