Million Solar Stars Spearheads First-Ever International Jr. Solar Sprint Race STEM Learners at Denver Academy (Denver, USA) and Universal American School (Dubai, UAE) Compete with Clean Energy on Opposite Sides of the Planet
25 Mar 2018

Star innovators and engineers from Denver Academy (DA) in the U.S. and Universal American School (UAS) in Dubai competed in the first International Jr. Solar Sprint Race last week.  Learners designed and engineered solar model cars to race under the sun on their respective sides of the planet.  American and International races took place over a 24-hour period at DA and UAS, while teachers verified and uploaded race times to the International Jr. Solar Sprint Race Leader Board.  Race teams competed for a highly coveted pizza party for the team with the fastest car. Race participants were thrilled that Stefan Wilson, Professional Indy 500 race car driver, endorsed the race and cheered on student innovators over social media. To the best of the organizers’ knowledge, this was the first-ever international school solar sprint race.


After hours of designing, building, testing, refining, and making improvements to their solar model cars over two weeks, the 8th and 9th grade teams ran a close race with the winning time going to Denver Academy 9th Grade student, Emily Morrissey.  Emily’s car, called “The Car Gang”, was a well balanced, solid design.  The angle of the solar panel was slightly higher than most other cars which allowed it to face more directly towards the sun. “The solar challenge was so much fun,” said Emily. “We spent almost a week fine-tuning our cars and the race day was a blast, especially since we had to wait in suspense for the Dubai teams to race due to the time difference. Everyone worked really hard and deserves to recognized – I just can’t believe I won!”


According to UAS Teacher Mr. Hall, “UAS 8th grade students gave it their all, with the top racers in Dubai finishing within 0.34 seconds of the fastest team from Denver.  This race helped my students understand that even the slightest improvement can make a difference in an engineering outcome.” 


Denver Academy Teacher Mr. Brookhart stated, “This year’s international solar challenge was an invaluable opportunity for our students at Denver Academy.  The hands-on learning of the entire process, from design, engineering, and problem-solving offered the kids a real-life experience with the added excitement of competition.  Collaborating with the Universal American School in Dubai only added to the excitement and friendly competition.  We look forward to many more years of international competitions.”


The International Jr. Solar Sprint Race is inspired by the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) Model Car Competitions for:

  • Generating enthusiasm for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM)
  • Improving students’ understanding of scientific concepts and renewable energy technologies
  • Encouraging young people to consider technical careers at an early age

For more information, visit:

About Denver Academy

Celebrating 46 years in 2018, Denver Academy (DA) was founded on the maxim that students

thrive when taught in the way they learn best. DA is one of the top schools in the nation

dedicated to teaching diverse learners, including those with dyslexia and ADD/ADHD. Denver

Academy’s innovative, proven learning model is based on the balanced application of

classroom management, information processing, and academic literacy. Small class sizes of

12-14 students facilitate student-centered differentiated instruction. Flexible placement and

several academic levels within each core subject, including Honors classes and advanced

coursework, allow faculty to teach to each student’s optimal level. For more information, visit:


About Universal American School in Dubai

Universal American School in Dubai is an internationally accredited IB World School, offering a high-quality education to a student body of 1500, representing 75 nationalities. The state-of-the art, 70,000 sq. meter campus is located in Dubai Festival City. For more information, visit:


About Million Solar Stars  & the MSS Challenge

This race was spearheaded by the UAS Million Solar Stars project and is part of Dr. Jane’s Million Solar Stars Challenge (MSS Challenge) being developed by teachers and students. The focus is to engage students with the process of building solar models, and to install solar arrays to improve educational, environmental, and economic performance at schools around the world.  The MSS Challenge welcomes students, teachers, community members, celebrities, and corporations to leverage their Star Power and resources to expand solar power at schools.  Million Solar Stars is inspired by Dr. Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots Million Tree Project.  Visit and Contact Us to collaborate and to get your school involved.