TEAM | Sonke
CAR NAME | Siyakude!
COUNTRY | South Africa
CLASS | Challenger
Sonke is a high school team from South Africa competing for the very first time in any solar car event.
Fifty students aged 13 to 19 from St Alban’s College and St Augustine’s LEAP School have come together to build their very own challenger to compete with in 2018.
Sonke means “together”, while the car name Siyakude! means “we will go far”.
The students are designing and building the car from scratch themselves. To guide them, the schools have set up a steering committee of parents, staff and former students who have expertise in aerodynamics, mechanics and electrical engineering.
The team has been on two special camps dedicated to preparing for the Sasol Solar Challenge. In this dedicated space, they’ve designed the car, tested the wheels and solar panels, and been mentored in soldering, crimping, connecting batteries and programming the onboard telemetry system. They’ve also gone through extensive safety briefings.
The build is also being used as material for their regular curriculum. In one of the school’s science labs, car designs are scribbled on a glass window, and a square box covered in fibre glass is evidence of the team practising their fibre-glassing skills.
St Alban’s science teacher and Sonke team manager, Rob Lodge, let the students chose from three different chassis types for their challenger. They chose a Formula V type chassis because it is light and aerodynamic.
The kids first built a wooden model of the car. They then tested wheels and solar panels before building its body. They’re getting outside help for the more complicated parts of the build, like welding the chassis.
The learning doesn’t stop with the Sonke team. Along the route, they’ll do solar power demonstrations using solar-powered toy cars for schools in the hope of inspiring the future generation of engineers.
This is the only school team participating in this year’s Sasol Solar Challenge.