Smithfield High “future renewable energy engineers” took home several honors and awards from the KidWind/Solar Challenge National Competition in Boulder, Colorado on May 14-17, 2023. Teams from 18 states and Mexico filled the Balch Field House at the University of Colorado. The competition field was composed of 21 high school wind teams, and 9 solar teams. Isle of Wight County sent 2 HS Division Kidwind Teams, 1 HS Division Solar Challenge Teams, and 1 MS Division KidWind Team. This was also the very first National Solar Challenge competition.
The competition consisted of several different components. The wind teams gathered energy data in four different wind tunnels: slow tunnel (2 m/s), medium tunnel (4 m/s), medium “yaw” tunnel (4 m/s and they turned the turbine 90 degrees during the test) and high (6-8 m/s). Each team presented their design and process to a panel of industry expert judges and participated in multiple "instant challenges." All teams participated in a brand new instant challenge that asked them to build a solar water pump and create media to support an imagined rural community called KidWindlandia as they debated the development of an imagined solar farm, and each grade division had their own special surprise challenge! High school students calculated energy efficiency and middle school students participated in a "Lock-Out/Tag-Out" circuitry safety challenge. Lastly, teams participated in a Quizbowl to test their energy knowledge.
After three intense days of competition with the best teams in United States and Mexico, our teams brought home the following awards:
Jaxx Leibhart and Peyton Bosmans, Team “Hungry Chickens,” took top honors by being the first team in the nation to earn the Top Performing Solar Award and Brightest Solar Array Award for their solar-powered automated chicken feeder.
Team AirBenders (Emma Forbes, Liam Lutz, Katie Lutz, Jaylen Marble, Kyle Nester, Jackson Elliot, Patrick Leslie) took home the “Spirit of KidWind” Award. Judges and KidWind officials choose a team that “demonstrates generosity, resilience and grace throughout the competition” for each division: elementary, middle and high school. They also took home a “Data Analytics” G.O.A.T. Award for having one of the top scores in the HS Energy Efficiency Challenge.
Team Goon Squad (Lindsey Greer, Eli Robbins, Aiden Hall, Nick Evans, Jacob Miller, and Shelby Huffaker) took home $250 and the High School Top Honor in the Fixed Offshore Challenge Event. The team had to design a turbine with a fixed bottom foundation in an “ocean box” of water and sand that could produce the most energy without leaning over.