The seventh annual event, conducted by Suncoast Science Center/Faulhaber Fab Lab, attracts about 160 students on nearly 60 teams.
Although the point probably didn't need to be made, owing to the smiles, cheers and generally happy times, Ping Faulhaber made clear that Saturday's Suncoast Science Center/Faulhaber Fab Lab 7th Annual Remote Control Custom Car Open was supposed to be fun.
"If it's not fun, we don't want to do it,'' said Faulhaber, the executive director and co-founder of Faulhaber Fab Lab on Beneva Road.
Around her, more than 160 kids from elementary school through high school and their families confirmed it. They were either racing on a pair of obstacle courses, supporting the event or cheering on the 60 teams from 18 schools.
Saturday's races were the culmination of weeks in the lab, designing and building their radio-controlled cars to match the event's jungle theme. There were snake cars, alligator cars, exotic bird cars, a tank (in jungle camouflage) and more.
And there was competition. Teams were not only aiming for prizes on the track, relying on skill since the insides of the cars were identical, and off the track in the form of design and presentation awards. The competition is designed to help students learn to work as a team, through design, building and racing.
Many of the high school aged volunteers are graduates of the program that Faulhaber said also helps encourage independence by keeping parental involvement in the work to a minimum.
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