Baltimore is not an easy place to grow up, by a long shot. But you wouldn’t know that from hearing about Jacob Legette, a 9-year-old West Baltimore resident, who recently got to spend a day showing off his 3D printed wares to none other than the President himself. Hailing from the neighborhood rocked hard by news of the highly controversial death of Freddie Gray at the hands of Baltimore’s police, Leggette’s rowhouse is right around the corner from the Western District police station — the epicenter of protest last spring.
Not too far away from Baltimore, one year later, on April 13, 2016, Obama’s 6th and final White House Science Fair took place. And Leggette was there with the projects he made on his 3D printer, as well as plenty of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education advice for the President.
Leggette is a Renaissance child of sorts, who counts 3D printing among many of his interests and hobbies. Right now he has a black belt in tae kwon do, is learning piano, and loves playing video games. It’s unclear whether President Obama got the chance to hear Leggette recite the 44 Presidents in succession, or name all 50 states in the order they were admitted to the union (two things he can also do readily). But Obama did hear all about 3D printing from this young expert, who shared his 3D printed sticky molds with the Commander in Chief. Obama also got the chance to blow bubbles from Leggette’s 3D printed bubble wand (see video below).
Stating that this was “the best day of his life,” Leggette also impacted the education climate as he advised the President to allow kids to shape the way STEM education is implemented nationally. The response? Obama has approved the idea for a kids’ advisory group for STEM education! Go kids!
Wow. I sure hope Leggette is on that team of White House STEM kids. In the meantime, his resourcefulness will do just fine. After all, he’s the one who got the idea to ask a company for a donated 3D printer in exchange for kid-based product feedback. And guess what? He got his printer. Leggette also attends the Digital Harbor Foundation’s after-school program where he currently attends a 7-week website development class aimed at his age group of “Mini Makers.”
These are all excellent opportunities for a child growing up at the intersection of negative neighborhood police violence and positive and supportive community education programs. Leggette’s mom, Stephanie, explains that she home-schools her child because the Baltimore schools wouldn’t accept him early due to his November birthday. Now she acknowledges that he is truly gifted. He learned to read when he was three, taught himself to multiply by noticing the patterns of 5 on his own, and now, he is advising the White House education policy.
No doubt his White House trip will be just one of many memorable experiences for this young maker who aspires, in his own words, to “be a programmer who programs robots and makes artificial organs.” Why this particular focus? Leggette explains: “I see elderly people come down the street, and I want to help them.”
Watch the video of Leggette’s visit to the White House below. Discuss in the Nine-Year-Old 3D Prints forum over at 3DPB.com.[Images: Digital Harbor Foundation]