First steps


Congratulations on taking the first step to offering your students one of the best STEM educational experiences available. Not many teachers do that for their students, and your efforts should be acknowledged. On this page you will be taken through the first steps you should take to get involved in the challenge.

Step 1 - get a feel for the event

The first thing that will help you is to understand what you students will need to achieve. Take a look at the video below of one of out past events. Is shows you what students make and what the event is like. Note the three options (Student Designed Cars, Boats and Sheridan Kit Cars) are shown in turn.

Step 2 - get connected and stay informed

Regardless of when you are ready to start running this event at your school, it is good to keep up to date on what's going on. That will mean you will be ready when the time is right. Sign up to our email list below:

This will alter you to what we are up to and when you need to register and such. It's an easy way to stay informed.

Also join our social networks (Facebook and Twitter) to connect with others who are interested in the same things as you:

Step 3 - choose the option that is right for you

There are 3 options for you to choose from:

  1. Student designed cars: the most involved project due to the larger number of components. It is ideal if you want to give a more comprehensive challenge (more time for testing and refining) that also offers opportunities for creativity.
  2. Boats: this offer an equal opportunity for creativity and involves hydrodynamics as well as the other aspects of vehicle design. However, there are fewer moving parts so the resources and time demands are fewer. Also ideal for students who live near large bodies of water and boating is a part of their lives.
  3. Sheridan kit cars: an introductory program suited to situations where you are more interested in getting something built and learning about the science than developing the engineering and creativity skills. Ideal for cases where students prefer cars, but you don't have a lot of time.

Step 4 - learn as you go

You will need to decide:

  • when you will work on the challenge (be it in class or extra curricular),
  • where work will be done (will students take the vehicles home or will there be storage on campus),
  • the schedule (how far in advance will you start working on vehicles; will there be dates for designs, building and testing to be done; when will you buy components? etc.),
  • who will pay for what (Will the school cover it? Will students pay to enter? Will students get sponsorship?),
  • what facilities will be provided (anything from using existing technical facilities to having a box of tools taken to a designated room to setting up an established lab)

You might need to start small and grow. And that's fine; it's the efforts and talent of the students that is most important. Also, you might change the program from year to year. You need to match it with your skills (which will grow), your school's focus and popularity of the challenge at your school. So you can expect things to change. Finally, you will need to try things to see what works. In design we call this co-evolution - you understand the problem more as you try to solve it.

To help you along take a look at the:

Also, be aware of the following:

  • The first time might not go so well. Both you and your students are doing this for the first time. That means you will miss things. Let your students know this so that they can focus more on what the learn than how well they go.
  • You might find it is is hard to get parts. Motors especially are hard to come by if you want the best. Depending upon when you make your enquries, you might need to start with parts that are not as good as desired. Something else to keep in mind when talking to your students about focusing on what was learned as opposed to how well they went.
  • You are part of a community. Once you have joined the Facebook page (and group) and signed up to the email list, you can connects with others who can help. Make sure you connect with others so you can learn as much as you can as fast as you can.
  • Management will be what separates the good from the bad. Those teams who do well, will normally be the ones who managed their time well. If you were to encourage anything then it would be that your students have a plan and that they stick to it.
  • Things are a success or a lesson. This is an essential mind set in challenges like this one. If you create a reflective attitude in your students, then they will be less disheartened by an early challenges and get more from the event regardless of how well they perform
  • Reliability is king. There is no shortage of vehicles at any event that have potential to win, but fail on the day simply due to reliability issues. It's the things one does not think of that often bring one unstuck. The more testing you can get in, then more you will know about a vehicle and the more reliable it will be.
  • There is a lot to learn. Don't feel you need to know everything and learn it all in one go before starting. Taking your time with understanding the regulations and the theory is fine. It can also be augmented by the process of designing and building a vehicle. If you view this as an ongoing task, then it can becomes less of a barrier to getting involved.

What is the cost? Indicative cost and build time for Model Solar Vehicles (12/02/2020)

Data presented here is for a basic but competitive vehicle, it is typical of what can be expected.

It should be noted that costs here are for a first time build using all new components. Many Schools reuse major components from year to year, motors ,solar panels, wheels & guides, electronics units, gears and propellers can last for many years significantly reducing the cost to build a car or boat in subsequent years.

Indicative build times are based on experience gained while working with students over many years. More testing will likely result in a better vehicle.

Times will change dramatically depending on student skill level, tools and equipment available and the number and experience of the adult supervisors / teachers.


Build costs

  • Rolling chassis, incl. wheels, guides, bearings, carbon fibre for axles and frame and motor mount ($160.00).
  • Body material ($20.00).
  • Faulhaber 2232 6 volt motor ($105.00).
  • Scorpio No. 26 solar panel for practice running ($93.00). Note: one panel can be shared between multiple cars.
  • Electronics unit cost varies from $20.00 to $105.00 depending on unit selected ($105.00).
  • Wiring components ($ 20.00).
  • Miscellaneous materials like fasteners, adhesives, etc. ($30.00)

Total first time build - $533.00

Total subsequent year build - $ 50.00

Build time

  • Investigation and design (6hrs).
  • Build (11hrs).
  • Test and modify/repair (5hrs).
  • Poster or video (4hrs).

Total - 26hrs


Build costs

  • Hull material ($5.00).
  • Motor ($10.00).
  • Scorpio No. 26 solar panel ($93.00). Note: one panel can be shared between boats.
  • Wiring components ($10.00).
  • Mannequin captain ($10.00).
  • Propeller and associated gear ($8.00)
  • Miscellaneous materials such as fasteners, adhesives, etc. ($10.00)

Total first time build - $143.00

Total subsequent year build - $15.00

Build time

  • Investigation and design (4hrs).
  • Build (5hrs).
  • Test and modify/repair (3hrs).
  • Poster or video (4hrs).

Total -16hrs


Build costs

  • Hull material ($15.00).
  • Motor Faulhaber 2232 6 volt ($105.00).
  • Scorpio No. 26 solar panel ($93.00). Note: one panel can be shared between boats.
  • Wiring components ($10.00).
  • Mannequin captain & crew ($20.00).
  • Propeller and associated gear ($15.00)
  • Miscellaneous materials such as fasteners, adhesives, etc. ($10.00)

Total first time build - $268.00

Total subsequent year build - $25.00

Build time

  • Investigation and design (6hrs).
  • Build (8hrs).
  • Test and modify / repair (3hrs).
  • Poster or video (4hrs).

Total - 21hrs


Build costs

  • Kit of parts from Scorpio Technology (Scorpio Technology Code: SHERIDAN) - $69.59
  • Scorpio No. 26 solar panel (Scorpio Technology Code: SOLAR26) - $92.45. Note: one panel can be shared between cars (assuming durable quick connector and mounting).
  • Scorpio Wiring kit (Scorpio Technology Code: HARNESS 26) - $7.53 (if soldering is available then only wire is needed)
  • Extra polarised connectors if panel is to be shared:
      • deans connector pair (Scorpio Technology Code: DEANSMP) $2.88 for 2 (Note soldering is required) or
      • Jaycar DC Plug with screws – (JAYCAR CAT No PA3711 $4.95) and matching DC socket (JAYCAR Cat No PA3713 $4.95) ie $9.80 for a pair
  • Aluminium plate to mount panel for protection and Velcro to allow removable mounting on car: $15

First time cost - $195

Recurring - $70

Build time

  • Build time 6 hours
  • Testing 2-4 hours
  • Poster or video 4 hours

Total - 10hrs

Now that you know the expected costs per team, take a look at the section below on getting funding.

Getting funds

  • Are you worried about the expense, and you want to find sources to help take the edge off?
  • Would you like to expand the experience for your students, and you would like them to gain sponsorship?

Then we have put together a document with some advice on how a team or a school can go about getting those extra funds. Take a look below

Sponsorship Ideas MSVC.pdf