Andy Berke
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Chattanooga Makers Day 2014

Yesterday, I met a little boy named Andrew who was born with no hands or feet. He was, however, born with an incredible and creative dad. Andrew’s dad makes prosthetics for his two year old on a three dimensional printer at Chattanooga’s Public Library. Andrew outgrows prosthetics so quickly that purchasing specialty products for him would be far too expensive. This way, Andrews dad can design and create simple prosthetics to help Andrew color and eat easier. There is a lot of buzz around the country about the “maker movement” but Andrew and Ezra show the power of giving real everyday people access to technology to empower them to change their lives.

Alongside, Andrew I met lots of other kids who were at the Library from our Youth & Family Development (YFD) Centers who were learning from other Chattanooga makers. There was a sandbox showcasing open-source topography that, with the touch of a hand, manipulates the ebb and flow of a virtual river. The sandbox was built in partnerships with area high schools and can now be used to teach about flooding. Kids learning about new technology from the people who made it is invaluable to the long term success of our community.

On June 18, Chattanooga joined The White House and cities across the country in an effort to foster innovation, entrepreneurship, and the next generation of manufacturing in the 21st Century economy. Here at home, kids from multiple Youth & Family Development Centers participated in innovative and interactive activities, showcased by “makers” from across the city. And today’s event was just a precursor. Mark your calendar for an all-day Chattanooga Maker Faire on October 11, at time for people to show what they are making and share what they are learning. Thanks to the Library and all our partners for making our Maker Day a tremendous success.

In the words of just one 9 year old at today’s Making celebration – “This is a magical place.” 

Personally, I couldn’t agree more.

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