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Voice-activated car sets a shining example;Solar power;Science amp; technology

At the Philip Morant School in Colchester, Essex, four of my 13-year-old technology students have built a solar powered car with voice-activated controls, which won the prestigious National Rover Dealer Career Challenge competition in 1999. We received sponsorship and help from Sensory Inc and South Bank University.

The students said they wanted to "talk to the car to get it to work". Through the Internet, they soon made contact with a manufacturer of voice recognition products in the US. That company now wants to trial new products through the schools technology initiatives. South Bank University donated solar cells, motor and control equipment, so that the students have worked and innovated with cutting edge technologies. This experience forges a meaningful and relevant understanding of the world they will live and work in.

Very important for the students is the realisation that they can establish and maintain a dialogue with adults in an adult world. They are now drumming up sponsorship to redesign their car and race it in Akita, Japan, with the encouragement of Mike Duke of the South Bank University.

STUART McCAIN

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