WHEELING, W.Va. -- A West Virginia fifth-grader got to talk with the pilots of the world's most advanced solar-powered plane after winning a national competition.Eleven-year-old Nick Turziano interviewed the Switzerland-based pilots of the Solar Impulse by satellite Monday from Wheeling's St. Michael Parish School.Nick beat out more than 1,000 students from 11 schools nationwide in the competition, sponsored by Bayer MaterialScience, which makes high-tech materials such as polycarbonates and polyurethanes.In the competition, students were challenged to think about what they would ask the ultra-lightweight plane's pilots. The questions were judged based on creativity, uniqueness, imagination and relation to the science behind flight and solar energy.
Nick won with his question, "Do the solar panels on the plane collect more energy when the plane is at a higher altitude?"Students from St. Michael's third-, fourth- and fifth-grade classes were present with Nick for the interview, which was followed by hands-on science experiments at the school."This is such an exciting project and to be able to involve children and give them the opportunity to learn about energy, solar power, and airplane travel demonstrates our companywide commitment to science education and science literacy," said Bayer MaterialScience LLC president Jerry MacCleary.