Solar Olympics at UW-Green Bay

Solar-powered water heater at the WPS Solar Olympics, May 10, 2017 (WLUK/Eric Peterson)

GREEN BAY (WLUK) -- It is the biggest and brightest object in the sky, and a competition at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Wednesday tried to find out how to harness more of its energy, and turn it into power.

At the end of an outdoor track, a solar-powered car is ready to roll.

"We used balsa wood for the frame because it's a lightweight wood, and it's supposed to make it go faster. We added graphite to the wheels so that they spin quicker," said Talia Tupa, a student at Gibraltar High School.

Tupa and her friend and fellow senior student Sadie Nelson built the car they call "Hot Wheels."

"It's fun, but we obviously want to win, so it's a challenge there," said Tupa.

Not far away:

"This is a recycled satellite dish." said Kaleb Jarvey, Green Bay Southwest High School Senior Student.

Jarvey says Green Bay Southwest's entry guides sunlight to a grill, full of hot dogs. Students say cooking is easy.

"About 10 minutes. We can get it do above 200 in that time, temperature-wise," said Tomas J. Peterson-Bennett, a senior at Green Bay Southwest High School.

The 21st annual Solar Olympics features 14 different competitions, 200 students from 23 schools throughout Northeast Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Public Service sponsors the Solar Olympics. Competitors are part of a program called SolarWise for Schools.

"Which is designed to provide students with education, and learning about renewable energy sources, particularly solar energy. It provides their teachers also with training on renewable energy in that curriculum and it actually installs solar energy systems on the schools," said Matt Cullen, WPS Spokesman.

Back to the hot dogs, "We actually had a judge eat one of them, and he said it was completely warm," said Jarvey.

So will the solar campfire, or ice fishing pole catch on? Cullen says, maybe.

"It's always interesting to see what they come up with, because no two projects are alike," he said.

Judging is results-based.

In the team competition, Green Bay Southwest took top honors, followed by Mishicot and Stockbridge.

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