Cayman Prep students bound for Bahamas

Cayman Prep’s Solar Challenge participants Max Johnson, left, Michael Cummings, Adam Stoner and Rachel Boyd-Moss.

A team of seven Cayman Prep students has been invited to the Bahamas for the 2nd annual DHL Express Solar Grand Challenge finals and Hack<IT> 2016 technology camp this summer.

Starting July 18, the Cayman Prep team will join other regional student teams in the week-long STEMBoard program, Hack<IT>, where the winning team will receive up to $10,000 in prize money and see to the execution of their solar designs by DHL.

Representing Cayman in Nassau at the finals are year 13 physics students Michael Cummings, Adam Stoner, Rachel Boyd-Moss, Ethan Whittaker and Abbie McMillan. Zarek Deosaran and Max Johnson, were also involved in the project, but due to other engagements overseas, will not attend.

In order to improve the solar array output, the team of seven thought it was best to design a sun-chasing panel. A comparator circuit, using operational amplifiers, light dependent resistors, and two small electrical motors were then designed.

“They worked tremendously hard on their design,” said Jason Nehra, Cayman Prep’s faculty head of science and project supervisor. “Their final submission far exceeded any of my expectations when we began.”

With the year 13 physics class studying comparator circuits in electronics at the time, Mr. Nehra, also the A-level physics teacher, added a bonus challenge question on a test, which produced “excellent responses” that led him to introduce the Solar Challenge.

“I introduced the Solar Challenge and asked if anyone was keen to build a prototype outside of class time,” said Mr. Nehra. “They were very keen.”

The DHL Solar Challenge prompts secondary students to create a low-cost portable solar solution. Supported by DHL Express in the Bahamas, Bermuda and Cayman, teams are required to submit an executive project summary, inclusive of abstract, materials list, schematics and budget.

While preparing for their A-level exams, all seven students dedicated time to the design and completion of the summary, which took one month to complete. A functioning prototype was also made by the team, and a video demonstration of its operation was included in the submission.

According to Mr. Nehra, entries for the Solar Challenge did not require a working prototype, but he hopes, nevertheless, that the students will be rewarded for going the extra mile.

“Two different mounting systems were designed for roof or ground installation that offered portability, flexibility for area constraints and safety during storms,” said Mr. Nehra, of the prototype panel.

“This is a tremendously driven and talented group of students,” he continued. “They have demonstrated an amazing ability to innovate and to work cooperatively throughout the project and I expect that whatever the outcome, their performance will reflect very positively on the school and on Cayman.”