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Local gun regulations, students fight for solar, driving a race car with your mind

Courtesy of David McMillan/The Miami Project

A challenge to a Florida gun law goes to the state supreme court. Plus, a group of students push for solar panels on their high school campus. And we meet a local student who recently raced a car with only his mind.

On this Monday, June 6, edition of Sundial:

Local gun regulations

The topic of gun regulations is heading back to the Florida Supreme Court this week.

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There’s a challenge to a 2011 law that threatens stiff penalties to city and county officials who try to pass gun-related regulations.

That's because no local municipality is allowed to pass a more restrictive gun measure than what exists in state law. That goes back to 1987.

The executive editor of the News Service of Florida, Jim Saunders, joined Sundial to discuss the future of this case, especially on the heels of multiple recent mass shootings.

Local gun regulations

Students fight for solar

A high school in South Florida just installed a big solar array, and it all started with a group of students.

When Daniel Stancioff was in eighth grade, he, his brother and a group of friends wanted to see how they could get their school to rely on more clean energy. They wanted solar panels, and that project took longer than they expected.

Stancioff is a rising senior now at Ransom Everglades High School. The other three students involved recently graduated.

After years of working with Ransom Everglades School to see how they could go through the installation process, these students succeeded. Three-hundred-five solar panels were recently turned on, on the school's gymnasium roof.

"They actually let us go into the power room and physically flip the switch to turn them on. So it was a great experience," he said. "I'm just excited to have the panels on the roof. The legacy is obviously a great thing. Once I graduate, I can always return and see the legacy on the gym roof that my brother and my classmates left for the school."

Students fight for solar
The 6 megawatt Stanton Solar Farm outside of Orlando, Florida was built on the site of a coal ash facility. Photo courtesy NPR

Driving a race car with your mind

Driving a car with your mind sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie. Well, it’s actually possible.

German Aldana Zuniga thought he would never get the chance to drive — after a car accident at 16 years old left him paralyzed in his arms and legs.

All that changed on a race track recently. He finally got the chance to drive, and not just any car, 850 horsepower car— with his mind.

“I never had my driver’s license before my accident and I come and I see this race car looking intimidating ... when you accelerate, doesn't go slow, it goes very fast," said Zuniga, who is a computer programing student at Miami-Dade College. “After the first lap, I felt that rush and freedom. It felt good. I just wanted to do more and more laps."

To get to that moment in the driver’s seat, Zuniga had to endure extensive training and surgery to have a device implanted in his brain.

This experiment was achieved in partnership with Falci Adaptive Motorsports and The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis at the University of Miami.

“What's unique about this device is that German is able to use this device in a meaningful way outside of the lab setting. So he's able to take this device into his home,” said Dr. Jonathan Jagid, a Professor of Clinical Neurological surgery with the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis.

They have designed apps that interact with the device to help Zuniga do multiple tasks around his home.

"We're not just doing something in a lab. We're trying to create stuff that improves the quality of life right now for people who have spinal cord injuries," said Jagid.

Driving a race car with your mind
German Aldana Zuniga, left, is a student at Miami Dade College, who suffered a spinal cord injury in a car crash in his teens that left him paralyzed in his arms and legs. Now, he is driving a race car…with his mind.

Leslie Ovalle Atkinson is the former lead producer behind Sundial. As a multimedia producer, she also worked on visual and digital storytelling.
Caitie Muñoz, formerly Switalski, leads the WLRN Newsroom as Director of Daily News & Original Live Programming. Previously she reported on news and stories concerning quality of life in Broward County and its municipalities for WLRN News.