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Young people lay groundwork in classrooms for solar-powered future

Experts say solar power will overtake gas power within about 10 years

SAN ANTONIO – Fourteen children built and raced solar-powered cars at a STEM robotics camp on San Antonio's South Side at the Wesley Health and Wellness Center Friday afternoon.

Jaden Zamora, 11, said the inner workings of his solar-powered car are pretty simple.

"It turns into electrical energy and makes the motor work," Jaden said.

Jaden's mom, Nicole Perez, said watching her son was rewarding.  She said she’s grateful for her son's teachers and for what this could mean for his future.

"I was just excited. I'm really proud of him," Perez said.

One of Jaden's teachers, robotics instructor Dolores Madrid, said children inspired by their solar cars are likely to work on bigger projects.

“’I'd like to do a little more science dad, mom.  Why don't we have solar cars?  What's the matter with our country that we're using so much oil, and there's all these fights that I hear about,’” Madrid said.

Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas sponsors the program for children. MHM partners with Northwest Vista College to bring the program to life. 

A nanotechnology expert from Northwest Vista College, Dr. Bhartathi Subramaniasiva, also known as Dr. B. by her students, said solar is growing in popularity and practical use.

"The Department of Energy has something called ‘Sunshot.’ It's an initiative to bring down the cost of solar panels," Subramaniasiva said.
Subramaniasiva said it’s just a matter of time before solar-powered cars fill the driveways of homes throughout the world.

"Maybe like 10 years from now, we're all looking at it," Subramaniasiva said.

Madrid said allowing the sun to shine on what these children learn will play a major role in contributing to the futures of the entire nation and beyond. 

"The United States needs this. We need children who can go forward with a different form of power," Madrid said.

For more information on the program, visit the Methodist Healthcare Ministries website.