Making Makers in the Southeast

Making Makers in the Southeast


As I wrote about earlier this week, the third annual Atlanta Mini Maker Faire is happening tomorrow, Oct. 26. Since its inception three years ago, the Maker community in Atlanta has grown wildly, thanks to a few new initiatives and spaces. As this Mini Faire grows to become one of the largest in the Southeast, its impact on the continued growth of the community has become clear — there’s a lot going on here, and I’d like to highlight a few things that are happening within the next two days:

Arthur Blank, owner of the Atlanta Falcons and co-founder of The Home Depot, has his charitable foundation exploring ways to inspire more makers in Georgia. And just like us, The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation believes that making can be a game-changer for many young people, opening up alternative ways to engage in science, technology, art, engineering and mathematics. In lieu of this, MAKE Founder Dale Dougherty is being honored as a special guest this weekend, and will speak later today on Georgia Tech’s campus about connecting local leaders and educators to expand the maker education opportunities in this region.

In addition, The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation is sponsoring the Georgia premiere of a documentary film, “IF YOU BUILD IT: A Year In The Life of One of America’s Most Innovative Classrooms”. The film will be shown at the Faire tomorrow morning at 10:30a.m. (RSVP and find more information here).

Studio H

Although the film focuses on a specific area in North Carolina, the overall issue is clear: many of the most qualified who leave these small, poor towns never return, often leaving them in a state of stunted growth, and therefore little for the younger members of the community to look forward to. Here’s a description of the film, followed by the fantastic trailer:

Directed by Patrick Craedon, the film follows 13 students, led by instructors and designer-activists Emily Pilloton and Matt Miller, as they work to address issues facing the community of rural Bertie County, the poorest in North Carolina. Pilloton and Miller lead local high school students through a year-long full-scale design and build project. The film offers an entertaining and emotionally compelling look at the difference “design thinking” can make in education systems across the country. It will bring together a national community to advocate for incorporating design thinking into the classroom.

Following the film premier, the Blank Family Foundation will host a discussion about the maker movement and maker education with Project H Founder and Director Emily Pilloton and Dale Dougherty, moderated by producer Christine O’Malley.

steam-truckAlso debuting at the Faire this weekend: the STE(A)M Truck, the first mobile makerspace to hit the streets of Atl, by Community Guilds, a non-profit organization based in Decatur, GA that teaches 21st century skills the old-fashioned way. Kids in low-income neighborhoods are in dire need of some inspiration, and the STE(A)M Truck will bring the tools, equipment and inspiration to them. It’s a great step forward in Maker education and outreach in Atlanta, and I’m looking forward to witness the excitement that’s guaranteed to surround it during the show.

For more information on the Atlanta Mini Maker Faire and to get your free ticket, visit the event website here. If you get a chance to stop by, spend the morning watching a great film and check out the STE(A)M Truck later on.

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Eric is a Mechanical Engineer with interests in machining, mass manufacturing, product design and kinetic art. While not building things, he enjoys skiing, cycling, and juggling.

View more articles by Eric Weinhoffer