Students put pedal power to test in RACV Energy Breakthrough

ENERGY efficiency is the key for the more than 18,000 people that have descended on Maryborough for this weekend’s RACV Energy Breakthrough event.

Solar panels, electricity, ethanol and pedal power will help transport students around the track in the 24-hour endurance trial.

Known as the “green grand prix”, the annual event is the biggest clean-energy motoring meet in the country.

Teams from 379 schools will keep their environmentally friendly vehicles on track from 1pm Saturday until 1pm Sunday.

For Seymour College it’s become an annual tradition.

Grade 5/6 teacher Julie Sawyer said the school had been taking part for 20 years, with a bigger team each year. 

“My husband builds the bikes, the kids all help with the drilling and putting bits and pieces together,” she said. “They really enjoy it and get a lot out of it.”

As well as racing, the event focuses on students’ awareness of environmentally friendly transport. Teams must complete a presentation to judges and inspection of vehicles before being able to compete.

RACV judge Maree Kellerman said the judging was not just about how well the vehicles were made.

Knowledge of global warming and explanations of how renewable energies worked were part of the assessment criteria.

In her sixth year of judging, Mrs Kellerman said student interest had grown each year.

“It’s very educational, and the kids really care about their designs and the event,” she said.

Girton Grammar students were hopeful their fuel-efficient vehicle could help them perform well in the 24-hour race.

Year 8 student Alex Holmes said their vehicle, Inception, would run on six litres of petrol.

“We’re pretty confident, it’s exciting to try to get around the track on that,” he said.

For year 10 Woodleigh High student Thomas Mckenzie it was all about the rush of the event.

“You get up at 3am for your turn and it’s pretty difficult, but once you get out there, the adrenaline sets in.” 

More than 12,000 spectators are expected to visit Maryborough’s Princes Park over the weekend for the event.

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