We Catch a Lift in a Solar Car Built by High Schoolers

We took a ride around midtown Manhattan in an electric vehicle built by a bunch of teenagers. Boy, did we waste our youth!

While most high school students are busy trying to convince their parents to buy them a car, a group of students from Saint Thomas Academy in Minnesota cut out the middle man and built their own...and we took a ride in it. Yes, to help promote National Geographic's new series Breakthroughwhich lends a different perspective to cutting-edge projects and scientific discoveries as they unfold—this amazing car was brought to the Scout offices in New York City.

We know what you're thinking: “They're probably running to their parents for money to buy gas.” Well, the car runs on electric and solar energy! The totally street-legal ride can travel up to 35 mph for 40 miles on a single charge, and it comes complete with turn signals, brake lights, a horn and even a 3D printed steering wheel.

“Ok, but what about when it's cloudy outside?" You might ask. "I guess those kids will be hitching a ride with their friends!” Again, you would be mistaken. These overachiving youngsters also built a 1,300-watt solar charging station made up of five state-of-the-art solar panels to repower their 110-volt onboard charger.

“Well, it probably looks silly,” you could assume. Well, if you call a carbon fiber/urethane foam body with a gull-wing doors and enough room in the ride to simulate a reclining chair silly, then yeah, it is silly. Silly awesome!

These kids have some bright futures ahead of them. Hopefully, they can build a time machine, and send me back to high school—I have a fascinating idea for a car sharing app.

New episodes of Breakthrough air on National Geographic Sundays at 9/8c.