Splish Splash! Over 160 Kids Battle in Sea-Themed Competition in Sarasota

Colorful underwater volcanos erupting with bubbles and a maze of jellyfish adorned the racetracks at the Suncoast Science Center/Faulhaber Fab Lab‘s eighth annual Remote Control Custom Car Open (RC Car) competition on April 1, 2023. Over 160 students and their friends and families eagerly awaited the race day extravaganza, the culminating event of an eight-week program designed to provide a unique engineering and design learning experience for local youth. 

2023 Grand Champion winner, Team Burrito Torpedo.

Nearly 60 teams of Sarasota County students from kindergarten to 8th grade participated in the program, which challenged them to customize a remote control car using Fab Lab makerspace equipment. By using 3D printers, laser cutters, vinyl cutters and even a vacuum-former machine, teams brought their “Under the Sea” design ideas to life for the design competition and race day event. Teams battled on two thematic racetracks: a shipwreck-style drag race and an obstacle course with a running waterfall and a pneumatic-powered octopus ramp.

A crowd of students watches the race closely.

Middle school team Burrito Torpedo (Vukan Kovacevic and Mika Nikolich) took home the coveted 2023 RC Car Grand Champion title. Vukan and Mika have been longtime participants in the RC Car program. The team shared that they simplified their design this year and focused more on practicing their driving. Even so, they still won 3rd place in the design competition. A complete list of race and design competition winners can be found HERE

children education
A car takes a tumble off the pneumatic-powered octopus ramp.

RC Car was created for students, by students. The 2023 RC Car Executive Committee included 15 devoted high school students who began planning for the event in September 2022. From selecting the theme and leading workshops to designing and building the racetracks and trophies, the student committee fully manages the annual program with support from Fab Lab staff and mentors. Through the peer learning model, both the high school volunteers and RC Car participants have a fun and distinctive opportunity to explore new interests and build technical, leadership and life skills.

Team Sea Shakers makes a quick fix to their car at Pit Row.

The 2023 RC Car program was made possible thanks to the generous support of the Deb Kabinoff Fund, Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Steinwachs Family Foundation, Sarasota Arts Museum/Ringling College of Art + Design, Forza Wealth Management, Miao Whiteside Realtor, Bill Wagy Productions and Troll Music.

The Defenders team celebrates a successful race.

About the Suncoast Science Center/Faulhaber Fab Lab

The Suncoast Science Center/Faulhaber Fab Lab was founded with the mission to inspire and support tomorrow’s innovators through experiential learning in Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math. Through its fabrication lab and innovative programs, the Suncoast Science Center encourages people of all ages to explore ideas, build skills and confidence, and become lifelong learners. To learn more, visit Suncoast Science or connect with us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Feature Photo The 2023 RC Car Executive Committee and support volunteers pose after the big event.

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