Delaney Denny made her own “butterbeer” for the Maker Faire, inspired by the Harry Potter books. Photo by Ben Katz

SCOUTING AROUND: Maker Faire inspires young minds

    The Learning Center charter school’s School Maker Faire was bigger and better in its second year, with 78 makers spread across the entire Murphy campus. The faire, a showcase featuring professionals who make something – from artists to engineers – as well as student-made projects only had 50 people present what they do last year, primarily in the dining commons and auditorium.
    “We have a lot more student makers this year,” school Director Mary Jo Dyre said. “We’re thrilled about this. They’re the makers of the future.”
    She said the faire grew thanks to student involvement last year and more teachers understanding the idea of a Maker Faire. However, she and her team worked to keep the event from growing too quickly, starting with a goal of presenting 75 makers this year.
    “We thought we could grow this year. We’ve realized we’re enjoying it, and we want it to grow at a level that remains enjoyable,” Dyer said.
    One highlight was what was once a simple battery-powered Barbie Jeep modified into a much more powerful machine. Engineer Reid Woody put in a 48-volt electric motor, welded steel frame, programmable controls, functioning LED headlights, halogen fog lights, hydraulic disc brakes and added golf cart tires.
    “I love tinkering with stuff,” Woody said. “Nothing I own is factory. Everything is modified.”
    “I love it now,” said Cameron Woody, a fourth-grade student at the school and the daughter the Barbie Jeep was modified for. The car wasn’t usable on the 3 acres her family owns before her father made the changes.
    Boys also enjoyed seeing and testing the power of the purple car with the iconic doll’s image on the side. Treyvon Luther, another fourth-grader, said it was his favorite project at the faire and inspired him to think he could do that, too.
    “I like making things,” Luther said. “I like cars.”
    Eighth-grader Luke Williams, made a unique instrument he had known about for while but decided to make after seeing it on television’s The Big Bang Theory. It was a Theremin, an instrument that uses electromagnetic field interference, like found in a person’s hand, to create sound. Many people marveled as the sound changed with their movements.
    “It was a family project,” Williams said. “Everyone in some form or another had some part in it.”
    He wants to become fluent in playing it someday. He said the Theremin was used to create music for some movies but not for Star Wars, even though he had his award-winning life-size R2-D2 on display next to the instrument. The droid was made for the school’s Halloween celebration this year, and several students had their projects and costumes from that on display.
    Brooklyn Johnson was dressed in a fawn costume she made for Halloween.
    “I realized I love hunting, so I got deer skin and put it together,” the third-grade student said. “It was really hard to sew because it so thick.”
    She said her mother helped by putting something on the skin to make it softer to work with. The only part of her costume that was not once part of a real deer was the ears.
    A few students made the world of Harry Potter come to life. Delaney Denny, a seventh-grade student, finished reading all the books in two weeks and admits she quickly became obsessed. She recreated Honeyduke’s, the popular candy store, making both treats and the walls.
    “I’ve always enjoyed making things,” she said.
    She said she plans to join the school’s quidditch team, the wizard sport that also was demonstrated at the Maker Faire.
    Denny’s friend and classmate, Sarah Kimble, made 3D models with scenes from each book, and arranged the models to resemble Hogwarts. But while making the models, she decided to make something else – butterbear cupcakes.
    “I think (the Maker Faire) has inspired me that I can do something out of the box,” Kimble said.

Murphy Middle wins battle
    Murphy Middle School won the county’s Battle of Books competition last week and moved on to the regional competition in Sylva.
    “It’s the first win we’ve had in a long time,” Murphy coach Gail Hubbard said. “Winning really boosted their confidence.”
    Murphy’s team members were Braylee Miles, Lori Beth Stalcup, Rachel Reid, Chloe Decker, Amber Martin, Gracie Prohl, Landyn Adams, Torin Rogers, Hope Ledford, Mazy Moore, Victoria Diaz and Jessi Harry.
    “They are dedicated, very hard workers and work well as a team,” Hubbard said.
    For Battle of the Books, middle school teams try to read 27 assigned fiction and nonfiction books from a variety of reading levels. At the competitions, students are asked questions about details in those books.

Lunchtime party at MAC
    The Valley River Arts Guild wants you spend at least a portion of your lunch break celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with them. The guild will be throwing a free party with food and prizes at the Murphy Art Center downtown from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Friday.
    “We chose a daytime event primarily to appeal to downtown workers who can come on their lunch hour as well as to the shoppers and folks who don’t care to venture out on Friday night,” said Suzi Henry, events and marketing director for the guild.
    Food provided will include green punch, mini-Reuben sandwiches, and other appetizers and desserts. Anyone wearing green will get a special gift bag at the door, and the first 40 ladies will receive a green carnation.
    Door prizes, which will be gift certificates for use at the guild plus another item, will be drawn every half hour starting at noon. Anyone who makes a purchase at the gallery during the event will get an extra three tickets for the door prize drawings.
    The MAC is at 33 Valley River Ave. in the Valley River Merchants building.
    Samantha Sinclair is the Scouting Around columnist for the Cherokee Scout. You can reach her by email, scoutingaround@cherokeescout.com; fax, 837-5832; or by leaving a message at 837-5122.