Welcome to the Solar Structure Challenge!

The Solar Structure Challenge is an opportunity for students to explore solar energy by building their own solar-powered object! It can be a house, a Ferris wheel, a phone-charging tree, a machine, a car—it is up to you! Judges will examine each Team's structure, see if it works, and ask questions about the design and construction process. Solar devices will be evaluated on thoughtful, creative, and resourceful design; circuitry innovation and complexity, Team reflections on the construction process; and what youth learned about solar power.

The Solar Structure Challenge is presented by Willow Bend Environmental Education Center in collaboration with the City of Flagstaff Sustainability Program.

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Any group of students in 4th-12th grade is eligible to enter a Team in the KidWind Challenge. Teams can include students from public and private schools, home schoolers, after school clubs, Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops, etc. As long as you have an adult coach, you can participate! Each Team can have 2-5 students, and the Team must have an adult mentor. The mentor will be responsible for registering the team for the competition and managing the team’s progress.

Registration for the Solar Structure Challenge is now closed.


Registration for participating in the Solar Structure Challenge runs from mid-November to mid-January. As soon as a Team is signed up, they can begin planning their solar-powered object design. The Solar Structure Challenge culminates in a presentation and test of the solar-powered object at the Flagstaff Youth Climate Summit in April.


Please download and review the following document if you are participating in the Solar Structure Challenge.

  • Solar Structure Challenge Guidebook: This document details challenge guidelines, from registering to presenting. Specific challenge guidelines are on pages 22-28.
  • Solar panels: Willow Bend has a limited number of solar panels for Teams to use while designing and testing their structure. If your Team wants to use your own solar panels, they can be purchased from any company. Teams can use any number of solar panels but the solar panels must be 6V or below and produce less than 500mA. If Teams combine solar panels in parallel or series, please make sure they are not producing more than 12V at 2 amps in any configuration. One cool extension activity for high school students around solar PV is constructing your own solar panel to learn the chemistry and physics of how a solar panel works.

Willow Bend Environmental Education Center contact information

Melissa Eckstrom
Email: melissa@willowbendcenter.org
Office: 928-779-1745

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Are you interested in the Solar Structure Challenge but unable to attend the Flagstaff Youth Climate Summit? Instead of entering the challenge, your students can compete on their own terms in REcharge Labs’ renewable energy design competitions. Completely online, each competition is hosted monthly, open 24/7/365 worldwide. Form a team, design a solar device, and upload your data. Online competitions include a Solar House Design. Visit their website for more details. http://www.rechargelabs.org/online-challenge.

This is a completely separate competition conducted online and does not include materials supplied by Willow Bend. Additionally, teams participating in the REcharge lab's online competitions are not eligible for prizes or awards at the Flagstaff Youth Climate Summit.


Flagstaff Youth Climate Summit

The Flagstaff Youth Climate Summit is a one-day gathering in April at The Arboretum of Flagstaff that brings together young climate leaders, and serve as the culminating event of the Solar Structure Challenge. The Summit includes project presentations from participants in the Climate Action Challenge, the KidWind Challenge, and the Solar Structure Challenge.

The Summit will include:

  • Chances to tackle one of the world’s most pressing problems with other Flagstaff and Coconino County youth climate leaders
  • Exposure to wind and solar energy engineering projects
  • A keynote speaker and panel discussion
  • Leadership and sustainability workshops
  • Project evaluations and award presentations
  • And fun!

The Summit is a collaborative effort among the City of Flagstaff Sustainability Program, The Arboretum at Flagstaff, and Willow Bend Environmental Education Center.