Ready, set, go! Sixty enthusiastic middle and high school students were presented with an exciting challenge – build a gravity-propelled car working together in teams of two in 20 minutes – then race their masterpiece against others. The catch?  Students could only use cardboard, paper, tape, straw, lifesavers or beads, and glue.

Fueled with creativity and team spirit, the students built various designs and competed in a workshop led by engineers volunteering from the Torrance Refining Company LLC and Torrance Logistics Company LLC. The engaging workshop was part of this year’s Onizuka Space Science Day held at El Camino College, presented by the Astronaut Ellison S. Onizuka Memorial Committee. The event marked the 34th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Challenger accident honoring the lives and ultimate sacrifice of the seven crew members.

“We wanted to provide students a fun experience where they can learn the principles of engineering by actually using it in practice in a fun way. Working in a Refinery, we use and see the value of STEM-related (science, technology, engineering and math) jobs daily, and as a mother, I know it’s important to share our excitement with kids at an early age to help excite them about learning,” said Amber Fuller, Refinery engineer who helped coordinate the workshop.

Students also learned how STEM principles apply to the Refinery and its manufacture of transportation fuels to power cars, trucks, ships and airplanes that enable our modern way of life.