June 7, 2011
By Jason Misner
COMMUNICATIONS OFFICER, HDSB STAFF
Off in the distance, a figure of Marcelo da Luz begins to form as he turns the corner onto to Stratheden Drive. As he gets closer to Lakeshore Public School in Burlington where cheering students are standing outside to greet him, they see him pulling a car, but not just any car.
In late April, Da Luz brought his futuristic-looking solar-powered vehicle to tell students his story about the car and how he is trying to make a difference in the way the world consumes fossil fuels and how society can become better innovators. As part of an awareness campaign through his Power of One (xof1) project to highlight the use of solar-powered vehicles in Ontario, da Luz was en route to Niagara Falls and made a stop at the Burlington school.
The school was celebrating eco-week and principal Gus Mihailovich thought da Luz’s visit would be a great tie in to the curriculum the students were learning. Da Luz provided a short presentation and allowed students to ask questions about the car, which can travel up to 500 kilometers on a bright sunny day while onboard batteries power the car for up to 200 kilometres at night. Sponsorship and the use of volunteers have helped da Luz create his car that takes less energy than a microwave to power up.
During his presentation, da Luz, a flight attendant by profession, encouraged students “believe in yourselves and you can accomplish anything you set your mind to.”
Mihailovich says da Luz’s vehicle and presentation was a great way to bring home an “authentic” message about respecting and protecting the environment.
“A big message during eco-week was on sustainability and making a difference,” Mihailovich says. “He’s trying to promote the messages about sustainability and lessening the impact on the Earth.”
The Power of One (xof1) project was officially created in the spring of 1999 by da Luz. The idea was sparked in 1987 by the prestigious WSC (World Solar Challenge). The original plan was to build a solar car to compete at the WSC. The idea was left on the back burner for many years and later evolved into a different challenge for da Luz – to cross the North American continent from the east coast starting in St. John's (the most easterly point in North America) to the west coast in Victoria, BC, following the Trans Canada highway for most of the way and set a distance record.
On his website, da Luz states this solar project presents an opportunity for individuals from various backgrounds to come together to promote the use of clean and sustainable energy and inspire others to do the same.