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Helmers student experiments with solar car dependability

Posted: June 30, 2008 1:34 a.m.
Updated: August 31, 2008 5:03 a.m.

Recently graduated Helmers Elementary School student Aleem Zaki shows off his solar car project which made it to the State Science Fair held in Los Angeles.

With gas prices soaring and no end in sight, the world needs more students like 11-year-old Aleem Zaki to come up with alternative methods of transportation.

Aleem’s science project, which tested the dependability of solar-powered cars, took him all the way from Helmers Elementary School to the California State Science Fair.

“I was concerned about global warming, and how things could get really bad,” Aleem said. “If people were to use solar power instead of gasoline, which is unhealthy to the environment, they would need to know which time of day the car would drive most efficiently.”

So Aleem built a solar car out of a kit and conducted experiments to determine which time of day the car worked best. He found that the solar-powered car drove most efficiently at noon.

“I heard on the news that gas might get up to $7 a gallon,” Aleem said. “I think solar-powered cars could be really useful in the future.”

Of course scientists — or maybe Aleem, who wants to be a computer programmer or scientist when he grows up — would have to find a way for solar-powered cars to retain the energy provided by the sun during the day so they could be driven at night.

Aleem is the only Helmers student ever to make it to the state science fair competition. He received the Best Overall for Physical Science award at the Helmers science fair, then received Honorable Mention at the county competition in order to progress to the 57th annual California State Science Fair.

“We were pleasantly surprised,” said Aleem’s dad, Asad Mohamed. “It was a big accomplishment, and he was excited about making it to the state level.”

Aleem did not place at state, but said it was fun just to be able to participate and to look at all the other entries. He was promoted from Helmers this month and is headed to Rio Norte Junior High next fall.


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