Math Counts campers build solar-powered cars
From the Abilene
June 17, 1999
By LORETTA FULTON
Senior Staff Writer, Abilene-Reporter
It wasn't the lesson Jennifer Winn was expecting when she
signed up for a math and science camp at Abilene Christian
University, but it falls generally into the category of
"I learned that gravity can pull you down really hard,"
she said, gently touching a sprained arm supported by a
That lesson wasn't in the camp training manual but came
unexpectedly when Jennifer, who just completed eighth grade
at Lincoln Middle School, fell while walking on top of a
wall on the ACU campus.
But the minor injury didn't keep Jennifer from returning
to camp Wednesday, along with a roomful of other sixth-
through eighth-graders who were eagerly putting together
solar cars as part of their science lesson.
This is the second year for ACU to have the camp,
sponsored by the Texas Society of Professional Engineers.
Called, "Math Counts," the camp stresses the importance of
math and science in today's society. A second, more advanced
session, will be held next week.
"You have to use math in almost everything," Jennifer
But nobody was complaining Wednesday as the youngsters
put together little solar-powered race cars, which they will
pit against one another today.
Ronnie McQueen, an ACU design technology professor, held
up plastic gears of differing sizes and asked the students
what happens when changing from a small gear to a larger
"It reduces the speed, but you gain what?" he asked.
"Power!" the students shouted in unison.
While McQueen talked about gear ratios, Travis Cabasal
and Stephen Smith, both seventh-graders next fall at Wylie,
held their solar panels under a light for a test run. The
panels were attached to a little motor with a plastic blade
on it. As soon as the light struck the panel, the blade
"Man, this works good!" Travis proclaimed, explaining
that the speed produced by the panel depends on the
intensity of the light.
As much fun as the camp is, its purpose is to be
educational. Co-director Leslie Koske, a math teacher at
Lincoln Middle School, wasn't disappointed. Nor was Susan
Jenkins, an engineer with ABCO and a sponsor from the Texas
Society of Professional Engineers
"They are absolutely fascinated with math," Jenkins
Koske said both camp sessions are for students interested
in all disciplines, including the arts, because all aspects
of today's society include technology.
"We need people from all walks of life to be interested
in math," she said. "Our country has a deficit of
technologically advanced workers."
For more information on next week's camp,
call Koske at 698-4610 or send e-mail to email@example.com.
Loretta Fulton can be reached at 915-676-6778 or
If you are a member of the media who would like more
information about this release, please contact Tom Craig,
director of media and community relations, at firstname.lastname@example.org
or call 915-674-2692.
- Last update: June 17, 1999
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