STEM NEWS

Ideal Farms’ Maker Fest celebrates innovation
Times Herald-Record. Lori Comstock. October 27, 2019.

Lafayette - It’s not quite the Indy 500, but teams that take part in the Power Racing Series have the same goal - to be the fastest on the track.
 
For these racers, 500 is not the number of miles they drive but the amount of money they can spend. The teams can spend up to $500 to purchase the materials needed to make an autonomous, electric vehicle. The goal? Modify a Power Wheels car and see how fast they can go in exhibitions across the country.
 
On Saturday at Ideal Farms in Lafayette, teams from across the country took part in an official Power Racing Series competition, racing their modified cars around hay bales to earn regular points and Moxie Board points, where race patrons can actually give their favorite team points.
 
Blacksmiths, carpenters, electricians, welders and builders also took part at Ideal Farms Maker Fest, which brought out hundreds of people who got a chance to see the skills of local craftsmen and craftswomen. The Maker Fest and the Power Racing will continue today from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
 
Ben Jorritsma, owner of Ideal Farms, said Saturday’s event was extended to two days for the first time and includes, in addition of nearly 25 “makers,” and a total of 12 racers in the Power Racing Series competition.
 
Among the teams were local high schools Newton and Sussex County Technical School, the latter of which was racing for the first time.
 
Sussex Technical School engineering teacher Chris Land said the team of students created their car out of a kids’ all-terrain vehicle (quad), had it painted by students at the school and named it Pumptysquatch.
 
Land and Howard Drake, a carpentry teacher at the school, worked on the car with the students. Both men decided to take a step back and allowed the students to work on their car and get it up and running themselves on Saturday.
 
James Hoffman, STEM Teacher at Newton High School and the coach of the school’s Robotics Team, said his team’s car - driven by 10th-grade student Edward Holder - was quite an upgrade from last year.
 
“We had a car made out of PVC-pipe last year,” Hoffman laughed.
 
This year, students helped weld the chassis of the car together, put on the shell of a Barbie Power Wheels car and upgraded their batteries. The team had a little help from mechanical and electrical mentors, Harvey Fein, and Donald Hoskins, respectively.
 
While neither Newton or Sussex County Technical school won the first heat of the competition, Tim Flynn, of Rutgers University, who had a car in the race, said it’s mostly about having some fun while being creative.
 
The event also features Stockholm-based Vorpal Robotics, projects that combine 3D printing and electronics, founded by creator Steve Pendergrast.

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