For the past ten years, Mars/Cars has been the primary outreach project for the Mars/Wars team. In 2021/2022 the team focused on a Jeep for four-year-old Hayden. The team leaders met with Hayden’s family and learned that he had been diagnosed with global developmental delays and seizures caused by low blood sugar that occurred on his third day of life. The family requested that the car be a Jeep to match the family car.
In working with Hayden’s parents, the team learned what types of developmental tools needed to be incorporated into the Jeep. Because of his disability, they felt that Hayden would not be able to push the gas pedal and they were concerned with his ability to steer the car. The team made modifications that disabled the gas pedal overriding this feature with a remote control that Hayden’s parents would use to control speed and steering. To help Hayden with his development the team wired a large button on the steering wheel that must be pushed to allow the Jeep to move. In addition to the “go” button, the team wired on/off switches that controlled lights and a radio that had a preloaded play list of Hayden’s favorite songs. They built a ball carrier and a personalized light up license plate. The goal was to pair learning activities with things that Hayden would enjoy.
This year 21 team members (along with mentors) put in more than 150 hours to finish the Jeep for Hayden. The majority of the work was performed outside of the team’s normal build season, and they were happy to present the car to Hayden on Feb 5th.