Dr. Palmer’s Update: August 2012
A highlight of my summer has been seeing the Principia College solar car in action. In case you haven’t heard, the team took third place in the American Solar Challenge last month!
My wife, Sue, and I met the team in Normal, Illinois, a little more than halfway through the 1,650-mile race that took the team through eight states in eight days. The route was bookended by Principia Club events in Rochester, New York, and Saint Paul, Minnesota.
The team of current students and recent graduates is impressive. They efficiently and swiftly handled the car as it came into the Normal staging area, including maneuvering the solar array into the charging position to get the maximum charge available. Then the team worked inside the car to update and upgrade the equipment and systems based on that day’s performance. Safety cones, wrenches, and distilled water to spray on the solar array all appeared with precision timing.
Of 17 teams that entered the race, only four finished the course on solar power alone; Principia was one of them, placing third behind University of Michigan and Iowa State University. The teams finishing behind Principia included University of California-Berkeley, Michigan State, Illinois State, Oregon State, University of Minnesota, and MIT.
This stellar team of students demonstrates the metaphysical theme chosen for the new academic year at Principia: “Delight in the law of God” (Romans 7:22). They overcame weather-related and other technical challenges without ever losing their composure or confidence. The team’s joy, orderly approach, and willingness to listen and respond allowed our liberal arts college on the bluffs to triumph over universities with large engineering departments. It’s a David and Goliath story that exemplifies what Principia is all about.
After the race, the team brought their car back to the College campus for a show-and-tell with Summer Sessioners. We recently wrapped up two very successful Summer Session weeks. Whether the adult students were playing tennis, studying Abraham Lincoln, painting, or discussing the 2012 election, Summer Session reflected a key policy and goal of Principia to help our students “think clearly, vigorously, fearlessly, tolerantly, unselfishly.”
It was inspiring to see the love of learning that pervaded every event during these two weeks. This reflects Principia’s unique and highly important place in the world—providing venues for deep, rich, engaging, spiritual, and healing conversation, discussion, and practice.
Now, the start of the new academic year is just around the corner. Next week brings the first batch of Upper School students for pre-season sports camps. The following week, new student-athletes arrive at the College. By the end of the month, classes at all levels of Principia—from Preschool to College—will be in session.
As we launch into a new academic year, I am inspired by what Principia founder Mary Kimball Morgan shared with her returning staff in the fall of 1932: “In thinking about this homecoming, I have been asking God to show us our special work for the coming year.… It is a matter for the deepest gratitude that we know not only that God gives us our work but that He supplies the intelligence, the strength, the wisdom, the power, and the grace to accomplish it (Education at The Principia, p. 67).