This might not be the week – with muggy days and heat advisories – that everyone is a fan of solar energy, but it’s encouraging to see college students putting that free power and their brain power to good use.

This might not be the week – with muggy days and heat advisories – that everyone is a fan of solar energy, but it’s encouraging to see college students putting that free power and their brain power to good use.

The annual American Solar Race Challenge is running through Missouri this week, and one team is from the Missouri University of Science & Technology in Rolla.

The run is from Tulsa to Chicago, and the aim is for teams to be creative in building road-worthy vehicles that run solely on the power of the sun. Will we all be driving these things in 20 years? No, for a variety of reasons. For one thing, American drivers like air conditioning, comfortable seats and good stereos, luxuries these vehicles lack. Making a solar car with all of that would very, very expensive.

But endeavors such as these push the envelope, however modestly, and they can lead to other applications – unforeseen today – that improve the community’s quality of life. It’s an old story, but we are told that the Apollo program, which put a dozen men on the moon 40 years ago, spun off such developments as the handheld calculator, which once was a wonder and now can be had for a couple of dollars.

The race in the sun has a goal and purpose. Go Missouri S&T. The side benefits, whatever they might turn out to be, are good too.

America’s nose count concluding

Last chance – be counted.

Missouri needs as full a count as possible in the once-a-decade census that is soon to end. The last day is July 10. Everyone got a census form in the mail in March, and most people across the country returned them, including slightly fewer than three-quarters of Missourians. The Census Bureau has sent people to the homes that didn’t respond.

Still, some fall through the cracks, and those still not counted can call the agency’s telephone questionnaire assistance line at 866-872-6868. It’s open through July 10.

Census figures reflect and help shape communities. They determine how many seats in Congress a state has – Missouri is in some danger of losing a seat – and how much of our federal tax money comes back home. The private sector uses the figures to help determine where to build homes, stores and restaurants.

It matters. It’s a fundamental government function mandated by the Constitution. Take a minute to do your part.