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Getting the keys to innovation

Founder of the Power Racing Series, where participants race modified motorized “Barbie” cars, believes innovation happens when we play.

Jim Burke never intended to establish a community of makers. But after he and a friend found a motorized toy car in a dumpster in Chicago back in 2009, for them, there was only one thing to do.

“We were driving it around,” Burke said, “and the idea came across to modify them and see how fast we can make them.”

That led him to launch the Power Racing Series, which has flourished from its grassroots to cities across the country, including at Maker Faire in Kansas City. The challenge of creating a working electric vehicle for under $500 encourages participants to learn, build, and compete.

The entrepreneurial mindset that the Power Racing Series cultivates allows makers to problem solve while being able to creatively express themselves through an “element of play.”

A graphic designer by day, Burke believes because children are incredibly intuitive, the key to innovation lies in maintaining the creative expression that adults once had as children.

“In order for you to actually grow as an adult, you have to play like a kid,” Burke said.

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