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These high school students are racing solar-powered boats they built themselves

High school students race boats they built themselves across Lake Skinner near Temecula in the 2018 Solar Cup.
High school students race boats they built themselves across Lake Skinner near Temecula in the 2018 Solar Cup.
Courtesy of Metropolitan Water District of Southern California

For the past seven months, hundreds of high school students have been building boats equipped with solar panels, steering capabilities and motors that produce up to 320 watts of power. This weekend, they're racing the single-seat crafts across Lake Skinner, hoping to win the coveted Solar Cup.

Students from 38 schools across Southern California are participating this year in the annual boat-building battle, which challenges them to put their math and science skills to the test. 

Julie Kalbacher with the Metropolitan Water District has been coordinating the competition since it began, 16 years ago. 

High school students race boats they built themselves across Lake Skinner near Temecula in the 2018 Solar Cup.
High school students race boats they built themselves across Lake Skinner near Temecula in the 2018 Solar Cup.
Courtesy of Metropolitan Water District of Southern California

"It's really morphed into really technologies and possibly a career path for these students," she says. "You know, if they really enjoy this stuff, look for the public agencies. We need engineers. We need wood workers. We need tech report writers."

After all that building with all that marine-grade plywood, the three-day competition culminates Sunday afternoon with 200-meter sprint races. Winners of both the veteran and rookie divisions in the 2018 Solar Cup will receive trophies to take back to their schools.