PINETOP-LAKESIDE — The Blue Ridge Physics and Engineering Club’s solar go-kart team brought home some impressive awards last month from a competition in Tucson.

The Blue Ridge team earned one of the top two awards in the Race, the Sun Solar Go Kart Challenge, including the coveted Innovation award, at the April 24 event at Muscleman Honda near the Pima County Fairgrounds.

Innovation awards are given to teams that impress the judges by designing a go-kart that is safe, functional and more innovative than anything seen in the competition to date.

The team created the first-ever transmission used in a solar go-kart in the competition’s 10-year history. The team created a continuously variable transmission, or CVT, that allowed a gear ratio ranging from 120:1 to 15:1. This allowed the go-kart to maximize solar input and motor output.

In addition to winning the Innovation award the team also placed second in the solar efficiency challenge for the Maker Class. The efficiency race winners were the teams in each class that made the most efficient use of their power input verses power output.

This challenge was designed to test a team’s ability to maximize the efficiency of solar powered systems and go-kart performance.

Since the creation of the Blue Ridge-UA, 4-H Fab Lab just over three years ago, its teams have earned the following national, international and state STEM awards.

The Fab Lab is a joint resource among Blue Ridge High School, the University of Arizona and the Navajo County Cooperative Extension Program.

The BR-UA 4-H Fab Lab is the first and only public school fab lab in Arizona and one of the most comprehensive school-based makerspaces in the state. The Fab Lab is a 7,500-plus square foot facility offering a large selection of digital fabrication equipment and machines including: 15 3D printers, 4-foot-by-8-foot Laguna Swift CNC Router, two Epilog Lasers, Roland MDX high precision Benchtop CNC, eight electronics and soldering rework stations, electronics testing equipment including a function generator and oscilloscope, Roland VersaCamm Vinyl printing and cutting, Roland LEF12 UV Flatbed printer, Roland GS24 vinyl cutter, Brother Embroidery Digital Sewing Machine, Wazer Water Jet metal cutter, Miller MIG, Miller TIG, 36-inch Bailiegh Bead Roller, 36-inch Bailiegh English Wheel, 30-inch Bailiegh Shear/Break/Role Bender and two vacuum forming tables. The fab lab also has a full collection of power and hand tools for fabricating metal, wood, plastic and many other materials.

In addition to the normally scheduled classes including digital fabrication and conceptual physics and engineering, afterschool programs and clubs offered as part of the 4-H STEM programs at the Fab Lab for HS students include physics and engineering club NASA rover team, Solar go-kart team and CubeSat team. Among the teams are: The JH 4-H physics and Engineering Club Samsung Solve for Tomorrow STEM team; Rocket Science and all things RC in which students learn aeronautical engineering concepts by designing, building and flying scratch-built RC aircraft, and digital photography/printing in which students learn to create and print digital images.

As part of the summer programs, the 4-H uses the fab lab to host a series of gardening and nutritional programs for elementary school-aged students. 4-H clubs throughout the state have used the fab lab to create projects and awards for events.

High school Physics and Engineering Club awards

• 2019 NASA Human Exploration Rover Challenge winner of the “Drive Train Technology Challenge Award”. There were over 100 high schools and universities from 26 different countries.

• 2020 NASA Human Exploration Rover Challenge winner “STEM Engagement.” The Blue Ridge team was also selected as a top team (top three) in both the Drive Train Technology Task and 3D printed Tool Task Challenge for this year’s competition. This year’s challenge consisted of over 112 high school, college and university teams from over 11 countries.

• 2021 SARSEF Race the Sun, Innovation Award winner and second place in the solar efficiency challenge for the Maker Class.

• 2020 Blue Ridge JH 4-H Physics and Engineering Club Was a top 20 national finalist in the 2020 Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Challenge. BR was selected as a top 20 team out of over 2,200 middle and high school teams.

Blue Ridge’s top 20 finish earned it over $63,000 in new technology and equipment for its STEM program.

• 2021 Blue Ridge JH 4-H Physics and Engineering Club earned a honorable mention, top 100 in the 2021 Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Challenge.

In addition, as part of the COVID-19 response Physics and Engineering Club students volunteered their time to create and donate over 1,000 face shields, 500-plus desk shields, 2,000-plus ear savers and five optometry breath shields. In conjunction with the CTE Robotics program, the clubs designed and printed over 30 multivent manifolds, 62 swivel adapters and prototyped a CPAP to ventilator conversion, a ventilator check valve and several different 3D printed PEEP valves.

All of these 3D printed ventilator parts were requested and created for the University of Arizona Medical Center, Banner Phoenix Pulmonary group.

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