The SJHHS STEM Club’s Roughrider Racing team will compete in Houston on May 13

The Roughrider Racing at the April 2 Ten80 Student Racing Challenge in Long Beach. Photos: Courtesy of Esther Wong
The Roughrider Racing team at the April 2 Ten80 Student Racing Challenge in Long Beach. Photo: Courtesy of Esther Wong

By Allison Jarrell

More than 800 students from 15 local high schools, including 50 from San Juan Hills High School, participated in the Ten80 Student Racing Challenge Invitational and National STEM League Expo on April 2 at California State University in Long Beach. The Ten80 National STEM League is a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) initiative that inspires students to engage in sustained learning, a collaborative network and an optional competition league adopted by schools in 37 states.

The April 2 competition was the first of 10 Ten80 Education/U.S. Army co-sponsored events across the country. The Student Racing Challenge gives high school students the chance to experience the powerful and real-life applications of STEM concepts and careers. Students learned how to work in teams and compete to optimize the performance of high-tech tools such as a 1:10 scale radio-controlled race car, fuel cells and robots. Students then take what they learn at the event back to the classroom and spend the next 12 months enhancing their project for local and possibly national competition.

The Roughrider Racing team from San Juan Hills High School took second place at the Racing Challenge Invitational. The Slothnators from Western Center Academy won the invitational and were awarded a $2,000 grant to travel to the Ten80 Finals in Houston, Texas on May 13, but they donated their winnings to SJHHS, due to a school policy preventing them from using the money.

STEM Club President Evan Morgan and Communications Director Esther Wong said the grant money, along with sponsorship from the National Aerospace Supply Company and Jordan Engineering Design Inc., will allow them to travel to nationals to compete.

The team competed in nationals last year as well, despite a late start.

“At the start of 2014, the Ten80 Student Racing Challenge was introduced to San Juan Hills High School’s STEM Club mid-season, leading to the birth of Roughrider Racing,” the team recalled in a press release. “Our school mascot, the stallion, is a reflection of our team as a whole. Just as a foal struggles to walk shortly after birth, Roughrider Racing struggled to become just as good as most other schools in only half the time. However, we surprised ourselves by placing second at the White Flag Invitational, qualifying our team for nationals last year.”

To reach their goal of making it to nationals this year, Roughrider Racing members started their weekly after-school meetings much earlier than last year, allowing them ample time to plan for the invitational. The team’s strategy has been to “divide and conquer,” separating the team into three distinct groups—enterprise, engineering and racing.

To find out more about the Ten80 Student Racing Challenge, visit www.nationalstemleague.com/the-challenges/student-racing-challenge. For more information on supporting the SJHHS Roughrider Racing team, email roughriderracing42@gmail.com.

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