Steven Saunders, Margot Page, Phyllis Yosef and Toby Pearson
"Solarbotics" is the winning program created by Saunders and his colleagues, where teams of third-grade students at the Community Magnet Charter School will build a remote-controlled, battery-powered robot. The 60 "scientists" will convert the robot to run on solar power while gathering data and conducting research to help them compare the environmental, financial, and performance factors of solar power and battery power robots. In addition, participants will learn what it takes to make a robot, the cost of purchasing and disposing of batteries, and how fast one can travel on battery versus solar power. Near the end of the project, the students will have robot races and develop written reports and graphs on their findings. They will also give oral presentations and display their work to the school, parents, and the community. With the funds from ING, these teachers will establish a full robotics program, and the participating students will get more hands-on experience. They hope that "Solarbotics" will teach their students that they can each play a personal role in the transition from conventional to reusable energy, deepen their understanding of robotics and solar energy, and empower them to teach others about the benefits of solar power.