When it came time for Roaring Fork High School student Ralph Good to decide on his senior Capstone project, he naturally thought of his passion for solar cars. He proposed that he document his past experience leading the RFHS team to a championship at a national competition for solar-powered remote control cars.
Good had been designing, building and racing solar cars for years with the RFHS STEM class (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). In order to fulfill his requirement of a Capstone project, he was encouraged to take his passion in a new direction: teaching concepts about renewable energy and the specifics of solar car construction to advanced math students at Crystal River Elementary School.
Teaching involved a whole new set of skills and challenges for Good.
“I knew that I would have to describe complex concepts simply, and be able to explain what we were doing clearly,” Good told Bo Takarabe, RFHS Capstone Coordinator. He realized that he would “need to address the why, instead of just the how.”
As a result, Good said, “I learned much more about a topic that I had previously considered myself an expert in. It’s amazing how much you can learn by teaching others.”
Good was surprised to discover how much he enjoyed the teaching as well. “It’s a high level topic, but they were really interested and took to it.” Sharing sketches and trophies from his own experiences in the Carbondale-based Solar Rollers competitions, Good clearly connected with the CRES students.
“Something I learned from your visit,” wrote one CRES student in his thank you note to Good, “is that you can use solar for very cool things.”
As he prepares to graduate, Good is proud to have sparked these young people’s interest in solar cars, and hopes that they will someday be the “new faces” that will carry on the RFHS legacy as champion solar car builders.