‘I feel like a real Jedi’: Wisconsin student builds own lightsaber, wins national award

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Ever since Kaebren Walker was a child, he dreamed of owning his own lightsaber, a luminescent laser weapon popularized by the “Star Wars” saga.

About a year and a half ago, while watching “Star Wars: Return of the Jedi”, he decided to make one.

Now he is winning competitions with it.

Madison Country Day School’s new senior presented his creation at the NAACP’s Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics – or ACT-SO – student competition, where he received a gold medal. medal.

“It doesn’t make that infamous hissing sound, but it does make a cool flame sound that looks a bit like a flamethrower,” Walker said.

The 43rd annual competition saw around 500 students compete in categories such as STEM and the humanities. The winners were announced live at the NAACP annual convention in July.

“It was surreal because I never thought I would be among these amazing other contestants who really had amazing plans,” Walker said of his participation in the competition. “They were working with VR, cameras … sensory technology, and here I am. I mean, I made a lightsaber.”

Walker said building a lightsaber seemed like a simple task to him, but others didn’t see it that way.

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“It turned out to be very complex for the others, and I think it gave me a little bit of self-confidence because I was like, ‘Dude, I feel like a real Jedi’,” he said. -he declares.

It took him 18 months to make the lightsaber.

Walker was able to participate in the national competition thanks to victories at the local level. Locally, he won gold in the STEM categories for engineering and in visual arts for drawing. Nationally, he was joined by three other students from the Madison area. Walker received the only gold of Dane County’s four, The Cap Times reported.

Before coming up with plans to make a real lightsaber, Walker did some research. He learned that three other people, using three different approaches, were successful in making lightsabers. He followed some of their advice which he gleaned from YouTube videos.

The approach he took combined acetone and methanol. The fuel ignites and then evaporates within the 3 foot range which essentially becomes the blade.

When it’s “on,” Walker said it looks like a thin flamethrower.

Walker made the lightsaber because he “thought it would be fun.” Originally, he hadn’t planned on entering a competition, but said the opportunity had arisen and he thought, “Why not? “

Whether he will turn what he calls a “side thing” into a career is still up for debate. He plans to get into art and design, but could imagine a double specialization in engineering.

“If I really want to continue with this, then it’s definitely something I can do,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to doing other projects.”


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