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(Many Paths)
An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
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Shiprock School Shines at Solar Competition
by Alastair Lee Bitsoi - Navajo Times
credits: Navajo Times photos by Donovan Quintero

Albuquerque, NM — When all was said and done, teamwork, timing and design of their car are what helped the Bombers from Mesa Elementary School in Shiprock win this year's 2013 Zia Solar Car Race.

After five rounds of elimination last Friday at the Albuquerque Explora Museum, the Bombers coasted their solar-powered car to the championship, where they beat Native Pride of Santo Domingo Pueblo. The 19th annual solar race, sponsored by Public Service Co. of New Mexico, had a field of 28 teams, including several from Mesa Elementary.

"It feels awesome," said 11-year old Jolene Joey about her team's first-place victory, "because we didn't know we were going to win."

Joey and teammate Crystal McKinley, 11, designed the car, while teammates Kasheo Heyde, 10, and Tyus Woods, 12, built it.

"We focused and took turns," added Woods.

During his interview with the Navajo Times, Woods heard his song - "Sorry for Party Rocking" by LMFAO - being blasted on the surround sound system, before his teammates said with chuckles, "Tyus that is your song. Go dance!"

Though Tyus didn't dance with the other kids, he was able to muster a response while dancing in place and did say that timing was vital to their victory.

"If you hold it too tight, the car gets stuck," he said about the solar cars, which are connected to a string through a paper clip. The string serves as a guide for the solar cars.

"If you didn't hold it tight, then it would stay on the ground," he added.

According to Doug McNealy, PNM's contact for Mesa Elementary, the Bombers designed a more aerodynamic car compared to the other 27 solar cars. The Bombers' car, named after a bomb, was lightweight and had five squares carved into its foam body to allow to it be aerodynamic.

"We figured with bigger squares it would be faster and if it's heavy we could have lost all five races," Joey added.

As part of PNM's outreach effort to help communities they serve with utilities, which includes 19 tribal communities, McNealy was sent to Shiprock. He provided students from Mesa Elementary School with building supplies, including a foam core, a solar panel, and 9-volt motor kit with axels and tires, among other tools.

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