Car exhibit makes space for solar power racer
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May 12, 2011  |  Vote 0    0

Car exhibit makes space for solar power racer

Ottawa East News

The Canadian Science and Technology Museum now boasts the Midnight Sun VIII Solar Race Car, which is on display as part of the “In Search of the Canadian Car” exhibit.

The car, on loan from the University of Waterloo, was built by a team of 30 university students competing in the American Solar Challenge in 2005. The completely solar-powered car can reach a speed of 110 km per hour and when fully charged can run for close to two hours in the dark.

Curator of the transportation collection and research at the museum, Suzanne Beauvais said this type of display is a great way to promote teamwork, technology and the need for renewable energy.

“We hope kids visiting the exhibit will be interested in the science and to promote the awareness of reusable energy,” Beauvais said.

Beauvais added that this particular car, with an array of eight square-metre solar panels all along the surface of the vehicle, is the most triumphant attempt from Canada at the American challenge.

“Waterloo university students have been the most successful in Canada to produce a solar-powered car,” she said.

The car is the eighth model made. The model before won the Guinness World Record for the solar car that took the longest trip, lasting 40 days on just solar power.

This car is just one of the many interesting cars on display at the exhibit, which includes the first and only car developed by Canada Cycle and Motor Company (CCM). The company, which now focuses on hockey equipment and bicycles, made the automobile at the start of the automobile revolution and called it the Russell Motor Car. It was developed from 1904 to 1916 by Thomas Russell and production ended during the First World War.
There is also the first car ever developed in Canada – a steam car, built in 1867.
Beauvais believes the car exhibit offers people a chance to look at both the history and development of technology but also at the changes in culture and communities.

“Cars are really a part of us. Before you are born, your mother needs to be driven to the hospital, you wait and wait until you turn 16 to get your license and then when you grow up and need a car for your first job – they are really a part of our life,” Beauvais said.

When it comes to the cultural importance for museum goers, the exhibit has a new addition thanks to Randy Bachman.
The rock and roll singer donated his 1965 Thunderbird to the museum.

The car, one the museum did not have until the award-winning song writer offered it, will be a piece of the exhibit that showcases the cultural impact a vehicle can have on society.

“Culture really goes together with science when it comes to our Canadian cars,” Beauvais said.

The curator has a hard time picking her favourite car of all time, but admits she is a fan of a certain Town & Country Chrysler convertible in the museum’s archives.
The 1965 Thunderbird and all the other great automobile designs and cars Canadians have built are on display in the Search for the Canadian Car. The solar powered car is located at the “Just Around the Corner” exhibit.

Ottawa this Week - East edition


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