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Savage at the Great Lakes Science Center. [Image: Anita T. Orenick]

Savage at the Great Lakes Science Center. [Image: Anita T. Orenick]

If you’ve been following 3DPrint.com recently, you may have noticed that I’m really excited about the rapid advancements, technological and otherwise, that are happening in my hometown. I may have a bit of a natural bias, so it’s always nice to get confirmation from outsiders that yes, Cleveland is doing really well when it comes building the future. And if there’s anyone I trust to give an honest assessment, it’s Adam Savage, formerly of MythBusters. After all, he’s made a career out of debunking claims, but he confirmed during a recent visit to Cleveland that the city’s innovative upward mobility is no myth – and neither is the importance of the maker movement.

While Savage may be most commonly known for shooting down commonly-held beliefs, he’s also a talented designer, special effects creator, animator, and self-described “maker of things.” Recently, he and Andrew Coy, a senior advisor in the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy, have been touring the country to drum up publicity for the 2016 National Week of Making, an Obama initiative that will take place from June 17-23 and will include the National Maker Faire in Washington, D.C. on June 18 and 19.

Cleveland was the first stop on the tour, chosen in part because its schools put a heavy emphasis on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education. It’s also home to several growing maker communities, and according to Savage, making is one of the most critical things to teach children to understand and appreciate.

“I think of ‘making’ as the gateway drug to critical thinking,” Savage told Cleveland.com. “Kids are inspired by the fact that we’ve manipulated our world and made it a little better, and the faster a kid realizes that, the better.”

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[Image: Anita T. Orenick, Great Lakes Science Center]

It’s something that needs to be continually taught, in my opinion. Kids are natural makers, but are quickly bombarded by a “why make it when you can buy it?” attitude that has pervaded American culture for years. That tide has been turning recently as the maker movement grows, but in order for it to be a lasting cultural shift, children will be key. Institutions in cities across the country seem to agree, and Cleveland is no exception when it comes to organizations that focus on getting kids to begin innovating from a young age.

Savage and Coy’s Cleveland stop included visits to Case Western Reserve University’s Sears think{box} innovation center, the design- and STEM-centered Design Lab Early College, the MC2STEM High School and its FabLab, and the Great Lakes Science Center, where 60 students from 12 area high schools showed off projects. Savage then led the students in a project that was both educational and symbolic – they built a miniature city with nothing but their own hands and found objects.

3D printing was, unsurprisingly, a consistent presence throughout the visit. Savage and Coy met with Brandyn Armstrong, the founder and CEO of Studio Stick, an incredible, partially 3D printed portable recording studio that works with smartphones; and Cleveland State University student Ilona Jurewicz, who invented a 3D hydroponic gardening system that uses found items and open source software. Thanks to technology like 3D printing, Savage told the students, “it’s never been a better time to be a maker.”

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Adam Savage visits with think{box} manager Ian Charnas and an Objet 3D printer at Case Western Reserve University. [Image: CWRU]

While Savage is a big fan of 3D printing, he also cautioned, however, that we shouldn’t get so caught up in technology that we forget about simpler and older ways of doing things.

“Don’t 3D-print it if you can make it out of cardboard; have a cutting mat. And don’t make it out of cardboard if you can make it out of paper; so have scissors,” said Savage. “Nothing is going to go exactly the way you want it to, and that’s part of the plan.”

I’m hoping to learn more about the rest of Savage and Coy’s tour for the National Week of Making, and I can’t wait for the event itself; I absolutely love hearing about how different cities are getting creative and encouraging making, innovation, and technology. Because of my natural hometown bias, however, I do have to leave you with this quote from Savage:

“Coming here to Cleveland today makes me feel that Cleveland is absolutely part of the solution for the future.”

See? I’m not entirely biased. Here’s a quick little video of Savage’s visit to think{box. Discuss in the National Week of Making forum over at 3DPB.com.

 

[Source: Cleveland.com]

 

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