Twelve Santa Monica High School students will race Rethink, a 16-foot solar-powered boat they built, during the Metropolitan Water District’s 2009 Solar Cup Thursday through Sunday, May 14th through 17th.

The team will camp for three days and three nights at Lake Skinner in Temecula Valley, where they will compete in sprint and endurance races against 40 other high schools from around Southern California.

The students test-drove the solar-powered boat for the first time in Marina del Rey May 10th.

Students from Samohi’s Team Marine, Heal the Bay Surfrider Club, and the marine biology program have been building the boat for the past seven months. Through the project sponsored by the City of Santa Monica, the students were given $4,000 to purchase boat equipment, including solar panels and an electric motor.

The Solar Cup is a competition that gives high school students hands-on experience with alternative energies, electrical and mechanical engineering, budgeting, and making creative multimedia public service announcements about California’s water crisis. In particular, students can experience the triumphs and hardships of constructing the

boat and installing the steering, electrical, and drive train systems, a project spokesperson said.

At Lake Skinner, boats will be pitted against each other in the sprint race, a straight course of 200 meters, and the endurance race, a circular 90-minute course that puts the prowess of the solar panels to the test.

“This solar boat project has taught me more about science and eco-friendly living than any class I’ve taken,” remarked Megan Kilroy, captain and skipper of the Solar Cup crew and Team Marine.

“Learning all the technical aspects and putting in many long hours have taught me so much, but it’s been an amazing experience.”

Benjamin Kay, marine biology teacher and coach of the Solar Cup crew, Team Marine, and the Surfrider Club, added, “I can’t say enough about the academic value of project-based learning and service learning projects. I’ve learned so much this year, and the magical thing is that the students have been teaching me.”