Our shop at work not only handles the daily activities of a repair facility, but on occasion it hosts projects of friends and family of the business. One such activity has been that of the some high school kids that are building a high gas mileage car.
Last Saturday I was on the job in the shop repairing some chainsaws. On the other side of the shop some of the kids were working on their project car. I couldn't fix saws and eyeball what they were doing so I did the logical thing and clocked out to help the kids with the car. I said "helped" but I didn't do any work. The help I offered was more in the form of offering suggestions on ways they could fulfill their visions. Techniques, tools available, time savers and such.
When I was a kid I was in cub scouts. The very first year that they offered a pinewood derby race, I was the winner. My car rocked and I'm sure pops was thrilled to have kicked the asses of the other dads...errr kids that raced. The truth is that I learned lot, and remember it all, about building that car. My dad made suggestions and showed me how to perform tasks but made me do the work. I was young and needed guidance unlike these HS kids that already have a vision and possess many of the skills needed to build this car.
There's a saying the best way to learn is to make mistakes on your own till you figure out what works best. There's also the proven method of mentoring or job shadowing. I suppose it depends on the task at hand which method is best. You probably don't want a brain surgeon or the dude working at the nuclear power plant using the "figure out what works best" method. I think in the case of the high mileage car it's best to let the kids figure things out on their own. What they've done so far is pretty impressive.
I really don't know how the competition works but I wish them luck!