NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - Newton High Schools 2019 Hydrogen Team Squirtle brought home a second place for Sussex County last week from the competition at New Providence High School. Despite only two team members available to make the trip, it was all Team Squirtle needed. Sliker and Paternoster went the distance and then some.

The team of Emily Brothman, Jack Bescherer, Jordan Sliker and Nate Paternoster were up for this year’s hydrogen challenge. What makes this team unique is that none of the four students are in any one class together during the day. This whole challenge was completed while passing and circulating edits, in this iterative design that came together as a remote team effort. 

Paternoster and Sliker were confident going into the competition because they had already seen Squirtle run across the floor in their STEM Lab at Newton High School already. Just getting the car to move is a huge accomplishment for most of the 40 teams in the competition.

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Many teams utilized the power of 3D printing, and laser cutting subtractive manufacturing machines. The host school, New Providence has such a machine in their STEM Lab. But Paternoster had a different plan.

“I am not 3D printing our chassis this year,” Paternoster said. “Balsa wood will be much lighter.”   

The Hydrogen Car Challenge or H2 Challenge is one of two hands-on Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics or STEM programs offered by TransOptions. The H2 Challenge was first run in 2007, in keeping with TransOptions' commitment to educating students about the existence of alternative fuels. The program is open to high school students only and is a follow-up to the Junior Solar Sprints competition for middle school students.

The challenge requires students to design, build and race alternative energy model cars. In the process of designing their car, students learn about fuel cell technology. They are also required to submit a documentation portfolio, which presents the team's concepts, designs, and research along the way.

Two other Sussex County teams had intended to make the trip, however, they had to cancel due to the delayed opening and snow which hit parts of Sussex County. High Point Regional High School and Walkill Valley High School will have to wait for next year’s event.

Newton was the only school representing Sussex County. Forty teams competed and team Squirtle wound up earning 2nd place in the engineering design category. Teams are judged on the following criteria.

  • Overall Speed Race 1st-3rd
  • Overall Craftsmanship 1st-3rd
  • Overall Engineering Design 1st-3rd
  • Overall Portfolio Notebook 1st-3rd