Meet the Maker: Murray Fenstermaker of TechTown

Chattanooga Global Chapter Leader

April 7, 2015

Murray Fenstermaker

@gotechtown

Murray Fenstermaker is part of our inaugural group of Global Chapter leaders. He is a passionate maker and educator, dedicated to inspiring youth in his local community.

I am based in…

Chattanooga, Tennessee

 

Tell us more about your organization/space.

I work for TechTown which is an after school learning facility opening up this summer time.  The whole facility is built for kids 7-17 to work through self guided exploratory learning in areas such as circuitry, robotics, code, design, and film.

 

I was inspired to start a Global Chapter because…

I’ve seen how creative and excited kids become about circuitry when it is presented to them in a way that isn’t intimidating.  I believe that anxiety is the only thing keeping many children from going into a tech field or being more engaged in school.  When I heard that littleBits wanted to start a movement for making, learning, and exploration I knew that I had to be a part of it.

 

Tell us more about your event this past Saturday.

TechTown teamed up with the Chattanooga Public Library to have an Invent Anything event in their children’s section.  Kids and parents were both welcome.  We had 82 kids attend, many with parents.  We set up 4 sections, an inputs section with an emphasis on different sensors and switches, an outputs section that displayed all of the different things a circuit could power, a logic section where kids would have to experiment and figure out how some of the more advanced orange bits works, and a music section where kids could build and play with synthesizers.  There were additional bits of all colors scattered in each section.

 

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What were some of the projects that came out of your Global #InventAnything Day?

Most of the kids were more interested in seeing what each individual bit did than build an invention.  At first we tried to coax more towards inventing, but then decided to let the kids do what was most natural for them.

 

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What did you learn from hosting this event?

I learned that handouts and posters are key.  Two of our tables had more robust handouts for tips and at those tables the kids taught each other how to use the bits.  I also learned that separate sections might not be the best approach.  Most kids migrated bits between areas to build things that otherwise would have been impossible.

 

Who else in your community inspires you?

The Chattanooga Public Library really inspires me.  We had a blast throwing this event, but they are trying to do something amazing every day in their facility.

 

What’s next for your chapter?

Our chapter has a spring camp that is going on right now teaching robotics, circuitry, and film.  We are using littleBits for some of the activities of course.  We have some exhibitions and appearances in expos but mostly we are writing content and gearing up for summer camps and our grand opening.

 

Be sure to catch Murray on the local news!