Robert Moses Middle School Races by the Competition at Brookhaven Lab Maglev Contest

Robert Moses Middle School students won a grand total of six awards at Brookhaven National Laboratory’s 22nd Annual Middle School Magnetic Levitation (Maglev) Contest, for which students designed and constructed mini magnetized vehicles to race on magnetized tracks in timed trials.


Center Moriches Middle School won five awards and Mineola Middle School and Albert G. Prodell Middle School tied, each bringing home three awards in the March 28 competition.

Inspired by the magnetically suspended, guided and propelled vehicles invented and patented in 1968 by Brookhaven Lab’s Gordon Danby and James Powell, the competition required students to design and construct model maglev vehicles according to engineering specifications. Students recorded their planning process in “design briefs,” which contributed to the vehicles’ final scores. The other part of the score was earned on the track.

Although the magnetic field between the racing maglev vehicles and the tracks make the vehicles hover over the tracks, the vehicles are not propelled using magnets. Thus, students had to design propulsion mechanisms to make the vehicles speed to their finishes.

Racing vehicles were specifically constructed for one of the five propulsion categories, including wind power, self-propulsion with a balloon, self-propulsion with another energy source, electric power, and gravity, in which vehicles were raced down an inclined track to test their efficiency in carrying pennies that represented passengers.

Vehicles in the “futuristic” and “scale model” categories were tested on the gravity track for functionality but did not race. Competitors were awarded based on the strength of their design portfolios and their vehicle’s aesthetic appeal.

Each category had first, second, and third places, for which winning students received trophies in recognition of their achievements.

Approximately 180 students from 12 Long Island middle and junior high schools participated in the contest sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory. The event was coordinated by the Lab’s Office of Educational Programs.

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