High schoolers are aware of the Earth’s rapidly warming climate, but may not be as familiar with the skills and tools they’ll need to be part of the solution.

Solar Rollers, a Colorado non-profit, challenges young people to understand energy. Teams of high school students work together to create complete clean energy systems as they design, build, and race custom solar-powered radio-controlled cars.

Hands-on learning and cooperative competition help Solar Rollers students correlate energy from the sun with speed around the track. Students build technical skills, teamwork, self-confidence, and ingenuity as they incorporate generation, storage, efficient use, and reliability into their Solar Rollers.

The mission of the organization is to inspire young people to improve the world’s energy systems as they become adult consumers and professionals.

Tesla has taken note. The bold and innovative company, devoted to accelerating the transition to sustainable energy, has made an initial investment of $76K to Solar Rollers to bring its highly engaging energy programming to Reno-Sparks high school students. At the end of the 2018-19 school year, 12 participating high school teams will race custom solar-powered cars in the biggest little city in the world.

This school year represents the pilot of a multiyear expansion throughout Nevada as part of Tesla’s workforce-building efforts for the Gigafactory 1 facility. “Solar Rollers is excited to expand our energy education program to the Reno-Sparks area with the support of Tesla. Student innovation with these solar race cars is fun – and it’s relevant for their careers and for Tesla’s investment into the future workforce of Nevada,” said Noah Davis, Executive Director of Solar Rollers.

More locations are in the works.

Starting with four local schools in 2013, Solar Rollers worked with devoted students and teachers to develop an online course and cutting-edge materials kit that now serves hundreds of students across the country.

Solar Rollers races in Denver, Dallas, Dubai, and the San Francisco Bay Area, with additional locations to come. The nonprofit collaborates with high-profile event partners including EarthX, Denver Museum of Nature and Science, and Intersolar, which allows them to showcase their races in the public eye and provide even greater recognition for the ingenuity of their students.

Solar Rollers is scaling rapidly and eager to hear from schools, partners, donors, and sponsors who want to be part of reaching more students in more locations. Solar Rollers is an example of nonprofit and corporate partnerships doing disruptive work at scale – in order to inform future energy decision-makers and the next generation workforce, one student at a time.

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