Update: The 2019 Make-a-thon challenges and winners have been announced!

The 2019 293 SPIKE Make-a-thon Has Finished! We kicked off on Friday, September 20th to a fantastic cohort of 15 teams and 55 participants. The Innovation fair took place on September 28, where the 15 teams showed off their solutions.


The 293 SPIKE MAKE-A-THON is a one week engineering-design challenge for teams of 1-5 competitors. The competition was open to people of all ages and ability levels, and is a key feature of 293 SPIKE’s Inspiration Initiative.

Competition Details

Teams of 1-5 people registered to compete in the challenge The challenge was revealed at a kick-off event at 6 p.m. on Friday, September 20th, at Hopewell Valley Central High School. Facilities for brainstorming and research were available to each team. Food (Pizza!) was also provided for the rest of the night to create a collaborative environment for teams to work together or separately.

At 10 a.m, on Saturday, September 28th, teams reconvened at HVCHS for the SPIKE Innovation Fair to present their ideas, designs, and/or prototypes in an expo setting. A panel of judges circulated the expo and select winning solutions. Winners received awesome prizes, which was announced closer to the event. This event was opened and free to the public. Participants and visitors alike saw other solutions to the challenge, and engaged with each other and ALS organizations.

Engineering with a Purpose

Besides being a fun community event, the 293 SPIKE MAKE-A-THON serves 293 SPIKE’s Inspiration efforts, which aim to increase awareness and interest in STEM and extend the benefits of STEM in its community. By not only being available to high school age groups, but also to middle school students, elementary school students, and adults who aged out of FIRST or have never been exposed to FIRST, the Make-a-thon engages completely new groups in the FIRST style of STEM education. This forms lasting connections with people, inspiring them to become involved in FIRST or the STEM community in general. We have already achieved success in this mission, bringing in multiple elementary school and community teams into the inaugural Make-a-thon.

The 293 SPIKE MAKE-A-THON not only brings a diversity of age into local STEM, but also makes STEM available to communities that would not otherwise have access to it. 293 SPIKE supports Make-a-thon participants in as many ways as possible, including waiving the registration fee for teams that demonstrate need and having our shop open all week with team members ready to help.

Finally, the SPIKE Make-A-Thon raised awareness of ALS and bettered the lives of ALS patients and their families. 293 SPIKE worked with Deb Frabicatore, who runs an ALS fundraiser in honor of her brother; Sara Cooper, a local business professional who suffers from ALS; and Jodi O’Donnell, the founder of Hope Loves Company, a non-profit that runs camps for families affected by ALS in order to achieve all of these things.

Sara Cooper was diagnosed with ALS last year, forever changing her life. Participants are not only helping us to benefit those suffering from ALS, but directly contributing to the fight against this terrible disease.

Overall, the 293 SPIKE MAKE-A-THON further serves 293 SPIKE’s core value of pushing for better. We better ourselves through an engineering design challenge, we better community STEM by making that challenge accessible to everyone, and we better our greater community building our event around kindness, generosity, and gracious professionalism.