Below are some items to have in the classroom that prove to be handy. Please note that it took me 5 years to accumulate many of the items listed below. Things like the glue station is already on it’s 3rd prototype.

From Solar Made


Each team of 2 to 4 students needs to have one panel and one motor. They can choose to bring in their own gears, axles, wheels etc., but the following kit help immensely. Note that the motor must have alligator clips.


Optional Wheels
I have kids design wheels for our 3D printer, but most just use the 35mm from the above kits. Some other really nice wheels are from Kelvin Electronics. The rubber comes off too easily, but it’s good to have a larger diameter wheel to test. See:

Other material to have available – (Optional)

  • Cardboard
    I get from the janitors/school kitchen. It’s the only chassis material I offer. If they want something else they can provide it for themselves from home. Almost any material can be used such as foamcore, balsa, plastic from political signs, etc. Some make it out of plastic bottle, milk cartons, popsicle sticks, etc. Imagination is the key here
  • Extra gears, motors, and axles.
    Can be bought separately from Solar Made or anywhere else. They will sell you extra individual parts if you call and ask. FYI: Gears and wheels have 2mm hole.
  • Wheel bearing material
    I’ve found small diameter straws work best. Note – I keep all parts in two containers.
  • Paper Clips
    Great for fabricating the guidance system. Get mine from the school office supplies. Big ones are better.

Tools to have availabletools needed

  • Hot glue guns and glue
  • Safety glasses
    I make kids use them when hot gluing and using power tools
  • Tack puller (optional)
    Great for prying off gears from motor. Sears
  • Drill gauge (optional)Great for putting gears on axle as well as taking them off. Get metal one.
  • Cutting matt (optional)
    Can just use cardboard. See rubber ones here
  • Utility knives
    And extra blades. I like the basic well-built Milwaukee or the Slice Box Cutter
  • Safety-T-Cut (optional)
    Or any metal straight edge that can keep fingers out of the way. Expensive, but…123
  • Scissors
  • Small Hammer
  • Table Vice (optional but very useful)
    Get clamp on or a light duty vice that would have to be screwed onto the top of a table
  • Rulers
  • Squares or T-squares (optional)
    To draw perpendicular lines on chassis material. Good for placement of axles so that they are parallel.
  • Hair ties (optional)
    for long haired girls and guys.
  • Soldering iron, solder, and flux
    To solder alligator clips onto motor wires (or just have janitor or a volunteer parent do this). Need tutorial on this? Email me
  • AA Battery holder with switch (for prototype testi
    imgJSS-fake panelSM
    Click Pic

    ng in hallways or for races on rainy days)

Nice to have, but not mandatory

  • Glue station
    See picture of my ‘thrown together’ glue station

    imgJSS-glue stationSM
    Click for Pic
  • Cordless drill with drill bits
    To drill holes in chassis material like wood to accept axles.
  • Wire cutter 
    to cut axles to smaller length