Fire Tornado Blazing New Trails for this Year’s Chattanooga Mini Maker Faire


Kate Warren, executive director of Art 120, is thrilled about this year’s Chattanooga Mini Maker Faire. A participant of the inaugural 2014 Chattanooga Mini Maker Faire, Kate reflected on her positive experience and expressed her excitement for the years to come. For last year’s Chattanooga Mini Maker Faire, a team from Art 120 and several local artists created the renowned ‘Fire Tornado.’ Kate Warren, Conrad Tengler, Mike Harrison, Andrew Nigh and Brian Dyer all collaborated to build the purported, “largest known outdoor Fire Tornado ” Named ‘Mr. Twister,’ this Fire Tornado plays on the natural phenomenon of fire rising in a spiral− given the correct apparatus and atmospheric conditions. As an added bonus, Mr. Twister has a logic board that synchronizes music to the spiraling fire. Kate commented that Mr. Twister is, “better enjoyed at night,” but that didn’t stop the popularity of last year’s presentation; we learned that people were coming from Atlanta and Nashville to see Mr. Twister.


Warren said the team took approximately two months to build Mr. Twister, but the main leg-work took place in the two weeks before the presentation. When Art 120 isn’t building reusable fire structures, they are busy teaching youth how to build ‘art bikes.’ Art bikes are what they sound like− creative and embellished bikes, adorned with ornaments and themes. Using the concept of the art bike, the team used trial and error to connect a recumbent bike to a propane tank and turret. Although the team had doubts, they managed to create this masterpiece full of both creativity and technology. When we asked if Mr. Twister is going to make an appearance for this year’s Mini Maker Faire, Kate said that Art 120’s plans are, “bigger and better than ever.” Although we cannot reveal what Mr. Twister has up his ‘spiral,’ if you will, we can promise that the innovations are impressive and ingenious.



Behind Mr. Twister, there is an incredible non-profit organization. Art 120 creates an interactive way to raise awareness and boost the creative community in Chattanooga. Art 120 offers programs for underprivileged youth and thrives on the mentality of, ‘what inspires the youth.’ The art bike program, a concept carried over from Kate’s hometown of Houston, Texas, has had tremendous success in the community and in the lives of underprivileged children. “The best part of what we do,” says Kate, “is bring joy to the community.” That’s exactly what Art 120 does. If you’re in the neighborhood on September 19, come to the First Tennessee Pavilion to support this labor of love and witness the new-and-improved Mr. Twister.


Call to makers closing this Thursday

The time is now to apply to exhibit your work in the 2015 Chattanooga Mini Maker Faire as the call to makers is coming to a close this Thursday, July 16. Tech enthusiasts, crafters, tinkerers, hobbyists, artists alike are encouraged to join the maker community in showcasing their work at this year’s faire. This is a fantastic opportunity to make new connections and be inspired by the fellow makers in the area.

Many makers have signed up and are preparing to show their best work at the event; so, what are you waiting for? Be a part of the maker movement right here in Chattanooga.

You never know what will spark an idea for your next project…


We invite you to entertain, inform, connect, and grow our community by sending in your application to participate as a maker in this year’s faire today.

Shown: ‘Fire Tornado’ by Kate Warren, Conrad Tengler, Mike Harrison, Andrew Nigh and Brian Dyer. 

The History of the World’s Greatest Show (& Tell)

In 2006, Maker Faire began in San Mateo, CA. Although small at first, by 2014, the overwhelming popularity of Maker Faire was represented in numbers−over 200,000 people attended Maker Faire between the Bay Area and New York. Maker Faire has taken off around the world. There are currently 119 independently-operated Maker Faires, some of which are international. Spain, Korea and Denmark are just a few of the many foreign countries now participating in Maker Faire.

More and more people have the desire to participate in ‘The World’s Greatest Show (and Tell) on Earth.’ On the Maker Faire website, you’ll find, “Maker Faire is a gathering of fascinating, curious people who enjoy learning and who love sharing what they can do. It’s a venue for makers to show examples of their work and interact with others about it. Many makers say they have no other place to share what they do. DIY (Do-It-Yourself) is often invisible in our communities, taking place in shops, garages and on kitchen tables. It’s typically out of the spotlight of traditional art or science or craft events. Maker Faire makes visible these projects and ideas that we don’t encounter every day.”

Maker Faire makes itself home in Chattanoogalogo

With Chattanooga’s second year of the Chattanooga Mini Maker Faire, expectations are very high. In 2014, 60 percent of Makers brought their children. As for the educational levels of the Makers, 33 percent had a bachelor’s degree, 21 percent had a master’s degree and 12 percent were still in school. The number of creative minds and gifted hands was greater than ever before. We expect that Chattanooga’s Mini Maker Faire will continue to grow as did the other Maker Faires around the globe. September 19 is coming up, folks! We sure hope you’re excited, because we definitely are! Registration ends July 16, so make sure to sign up for a guaranteed spot.


Andrew McPherson: Mocs Arcade Maker


Andrew McPherson gave us a little insight to his ‘Mocs Arcade’−a 2014 entry in Chattanooga’s Mini Maker Faire. Andrew, a recent graduate from The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, animatedly spoke with us about the effort it took to build the Mocs Arcade and the enjoyment he received by participating in the Mini Maker Faire. Collaborating with the UTC Engineering team, Andrew and several UTC Computer Science students built a standard arcade game. Participants were able to choose between three different, student-made video games. The process took several weeks and contributions from a variety of sources, but the final product was worth all of the effort.


Talking about this year’s Mini Maker Faire, Andrew commented that he will be unable to attend. He recently accepted a job at Amazon in Seattle, and he will be moving to Washington come August. However, he attributes his recent job opportunity to his Mocs Arcade. Highly impressed by the effort and ingenuity of the Mocs Arcade, Amazon offered Andrew a tremendous opportunity to join the web programming team. Although Andrew will not be in Chattanooga for the presentation, he revealed that he and his peers have been improving the Mocs Arcade exponentially−there will be seven different video games to choose from.

After the unprecedented success at the inaugural year of Chattanooga’s Mini Maker Faire in 2014, Andrew stated that many students at UTC are working diligently to make this year’s projects, “bigger and better than ever.” In fact, UTC has even created an individual space for Maker Faire projects. “The growth of interest in Chattanooga’s Mini Maker Faire on the UTC campus is really exciting; I just hope our department keeps the students involved,” said Andrew.


When speaking of what he gained from Chattanooga’s Mini Maker Faire, Andrew simply said, “I love being able to make things and meet other people that make things.” So, simply put, Chattanooga’s Mini Maker Faire is a place to meet other people that make things−a creative environment of those who show, tell and learn.


Maker Application Deadline Approaching

Tech enthusiasts, crafters, tinkerers, hobbyists and artists of all ages can apply online by July 16 to be featured at Chattanooga’s second Mini Maker Faire.

The Chattanooga Mini Maker Faire celebrates the maker movement and welcomes people from all backgrounds to showcase their creations free of charge at the First Tennessee Pavilion on Saturday, Sept. 19, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Graham Bredemeyer, director of the Faire, said that the purpose of the event is to bring the community together to learn about the amazing maker talent in Chattanooga. “It was my hope to make this an annual event after the inaugural Faire in 2014 was such a success,” Bredemeyer said. “I’m not only looking forward to featuring the maker’s projects but also to connect the makers in the area with each other for better collaboration. It is a great opportunity for education, inspiration and community growth.”

The daylong, free to attend event will feature projects, performances, competitions and workshops. Organizers are seeking interactive exhibits that highlight the process of making things. Some of those submissions may include automated electronics, sustainability projects and large-scale art.

Bredemeyer said that last year’s event featured a wide variety of DIY products, from hydroponic gardens to a life-size R2D2 and a fire tornado, powered by pedaling a bicycle. “We had about 60 makers show their projects last year and explain how they created them,” he said.

Dozens of makers will be featured, and participants are encouraged to apply early due to limited space.

The Force is Strong with Dan Baker

“Bleep… Boop… Beep Beep Boop…. Beep!” C5&C3PO Star Wars fans delight: a Chattanooga local built an R2D2 replica from scratch and is excited to join in the Mini Maker Faire for the second year in a row. Dan Baker, graphic designer and sign maker, began this project with an interest in prop building, robotics and, yes, the Galactic Empire. WeirdAlYankovic DanielLogan & R2Girls The R2 Builders Club was founded in 1999, and Baker began working with the group in 2000. He didn’t start the project until 2006, and it took him four years to complete the prop. “I built R2 from scratch for cost, and as an artist, your build and process is your right of passage. There’s a difference between building from scratch and buying a bunch of materials to put together.” R2 can turn its head and drive around, its sound is on an automated loop. R2’s typical day is 11-12 hours before it needs to be charged, although it did participate in a 3-mile parade once during a 14-hour day. ConNooga BzXAHNJIUAACAL5“We have been to over 100 events,” Baker said. “R2 has been a ring bearer in three weddings, one being Star Wars-themed.” Aside from weddings R2 has been in dozens of parades, Star Wars-related events, Chattanooga Roller Girls events, presentations, conventions and the Chattanooga Mini Maker Faire! Baker said it isn’t uncommon for R2 to be introduced on stage before he is … “Let’s welcome R2 and Dan Baker!” Bx8zIKLIMAAUA-_ “R2 represents so much time and effort,” Baker said. “It is a really satisfying and rewarding experience to go from creating something like this to being able to share it with others.” Right now R2 sits in Baker’s living room, and it moves throughout the house regularly. Mrs. Baker’s only rule is that R2 doesn’t enter the bedrooms. Bx7kMw_IAAABYrQ Baker is a huge supporter of the maker movement in Chattanooga and is looking forward to this year’s faire. “The thing I like most is that it used to be a bunch of nerds building stuff in their basements. The maker community encourages us, and brings us together.”

Celebrating Clifton Hills: A Gala Maker Space


Clifton Hills Elementary librarian Christol Kapp dreamed of having more meaningful engagement with her students after she witnessed what was taking place at the Chattanooga Public Library. Kapp noticed how the library was changing the interactions they had with patrons and immediately knew that’s what she wanted for Clifton Hills. She made a list of the technology she wanted her students to have access to and started pitching her ideas to anyone who would listen.

“I’m going to take this risk; what do you have to lose?” Kapp said. She attended the 48-Hour Launch education edition and joined Team 36 U. Kapp refined her concept during her participation in PEF’s Teacherpreneur Incubator and STEM Fellows programs. She wanted a space with stations that would be centered on the subject-themed projects unique to each class, and she wanted a big end-of-year party to celebrate the completion of the projects.

Financial support for her maker space vision came from a Hamilton County Department of Education technology innovation grant and from a Junior League of Chattanooga classroom mini-grant.

Over winter break, Leadership Chattanooga donated two full days of labor to the project. “What people don’t realize is when you paint a library, all the books have to be completely taken down,” Kapp said. “They accomplished a tremendous amount of work in two days. I was amazed.”

Take a closer look: Clifton Hills Elementary School Library Makeover

The remodel was completed by the time students returned to school in January, when the Clifton Hills Elementary maker space officially opened to students.

Kapp’s long-range goal for the maker space is to open it up to parents and the community.

Kapp engaged numerous organizations that would help her along the way: Leadership Chattanooga, Mozilla, PEF Stem Fellow, HCDE, Junior League of Chattanooga and Co.Lab. Through the PEF Teacherpreneur Incubator, PEF Stem Fellows, HCDE technology innovation grant and her team’s participation in Co.Lab’s 48-hour launch in August of 2014, the plans for the maker space were set in motion. It then became time to roll up the sleeves and get the physical work done!

Over winter break, Leadership Chattanooga donated two full days of labor to the project. “What people don’t realize is when you paint a library, all the books have to be completely taken down”, Kapp said. “They accomplished a tremendous amount of work in 2 days, I was amazed.” The remodel was completed by the time students returned to school in January.

MakerGala: A celebration of the CHES Maker Space

“Our Maker Space Gala was such a great event that brought student’s families, community members and educators in the space for the party. We had stations and maker projects all around the room and student leaders were asked to assist attendees in their process of making at each station,” Kapp said. “Leadership Chattanooga helped us by getting all of the sponsors for the event. Special thanks for Regions, Chicken Salad Chick, Steak ‘n Shake and Community Pie for making our gala so successful.”


Productive Noise (n): Where SHHHHH! is no longer used.

“The space sets a completely different mood right when you walk in the door,” Kapp said. “It’s a flexible space so no matter what class is there or what project they are working on, it works! I tell my students if they can dream it, they can do it here.”


When Kapp begins a class she takes a few minutes to remind the kids of procedures and goes over the task at hand. She gives the students a chance to checkout and return books. After that, the students go to their station and are completely self-directed.


Kapp walks around the room asking students the following questions

What are you making today?

How are you doing it?

How can I help you?

“It’s amazing how many of those questions lead to unexpected pop-up lessons that would’ve never happened if they weren’t in the process of making,” Kapp said. “In one class I set out poems on each of the stations and asked students to let the poetry inspire their making. It was fascinating to watch them! It allows them to start using their imaginations which leads to more interest in creative writing because they have more inspiration for their stories.”


Since the space opened, book circulation has increased.

Looking Ahead

Kapp is currently raising funds for tables and chairs that are more conducive to a flexible space. She hopes to eventually hold two galas a year to celebrate their maker space. The space will be open now through July 7 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Tuesdays for an opportunity for kids to come hear volunteers read different books to them. For more information on the maker space, the summer reading program or donations contact Christol Kapp at

What is the Maker Ed Initiative?

Maker Ed Logo - Horizontal


“Every child a maker” is the non-profit organization Maker Ed’s vision. They strive to provide opportunities for the community’s youth by facilitating making and learning experiences. By creating opportunities for young people, Maker Ed hopes to develop confidence, creativity and interest in science, technology, engineering, math, art and learning through the process of making. This is especially important in communities that are underserved or without art programs in their schools.


Access for All

Transformation of Education

Collaboration and CommunityCAM00093

Diversity of Approaches

Engagement in Learning

                                                     Photos courtesy of Art 120, Art Bike Summer program 


Art 120 is an official host site for the maker education initiative in Chattanooga. Maker Ed uses host sites to help them network locally and share ideas among makers. They also use these community partnerships to provide training opportunities for educators on how to incorporate making into their lesson plans and teaching techniques. Volunteers through the Maker Vista and Maker Corps programs also seek grants and initiate fundraising efforts to support maker experiences in schools.

Maker Ed’s national network of educators, volunteers and host sites is able to see what models are most effective with students, which helps facilitate research, further student education and create public awareness of the Maker Ed organization and the maker movement.


If you’re an educator who wants to take advantage of the Maker Ed resources at Art 120 or learn more about how to incorporate maker activities into your classroom, contact Kate Warren at or visit

H/T: Maker Ed

Red Bank Elementary Maker Space in the Making

IMG_8935 715 kids.

One vision.

Creating a flexible space where Red Bank Elementary students have the freedom to discover their interests.

Gone are the days of sitting still in a quiet library. Red Bank Elementary is breaking that stereotype in a big way. Principal Haley Brown, Librarian Laura Howell Dowd and the six-teacher innovation team, also known as the I-team, have been in the process of transforming their library into a maker space.

“We have a great deal of support for this project by our principal, Haley Brown,” Dowd said. “She has really led and embraced this project from the very beginning. Our community is truly amazing. Everyone wants to help and it really makes this transformation process even better.” An anonymous donor made a contribution of $30,000 to the project in early March, which kick-started the process.

Dowd said that Nate Galui will be their interior designer for the project. Galui is a veteran of the show Extreme Home Makeover, and he is particularly excited about this project since this is want he wanted as a kid. Red Bank’s fifth graders will also have design input for the final plan. IMG_8921

“In the age of information technology, we are trying to also provide hands-on experiences for our students. We want to inspire the future makers and innovators for our community,” Dowd said. “Many of the interests children have translate into their careers, and it is important to start cultivating those interests early on.” She encourages students to focus on the process of making rather than the result of the creation.

“My lessons have already changed. We went from a teacher-centered classroom to a student-centered one,” Dowd said. “The kids are now in charge of their own learning.” She believes that this space will help students be more confident, especially in their middle school years when they are often unsure of themselves. The multi-phase plan focuses on infrastructure as opposed to material. They plan to repurpose a lot of the furniture and storage the library already has, and they will transform the dated computer lab into a mini kitchen for science experiments and cooking projects. The computer lab will also hold a production lab.


The I-team plans to cover the tabletops with white board paint or sheet metal and cut down bookshelves for a more open floor plan. The library is planning to keep all of the books. IMG_8927 Dowd said they are constantly brainstorming on creative storage and up-cycling ideas to make the most of the funding they have received. They will have an easel area by the entrance of the space and hope to have outdoor access where the windows are currently.


Students were asked to use VHS tapes to create puppets with one moveable part. Red Bank Elementary maker team member De’Jour Nasir Horton shared one of his projects with us.


Shown: Laura Howell Dowd holding De’Jour’s project

Dowd said the maker team is a group of 50 students that have been chosen to lead the entire student body in Red Bank Elementary’s maker movement.  These students have already led design lessons for their classmates and worked as a production crew for the school’s talent show.

Over 70% of the Red Bank Elementary student body participates in the free or reduced lunch program. Next year the school will become a 1:1 school, which means every child will have a device such as a tablet or laptop to aid in his or her learning.

“Our school is very passionate and excited about our maker space,” Dowd said. “Now when a student is reading a book in the library, they will have the ability to make something that continues the learning and strengthens the concept. We will soon have the space to facilitate that process.”

To learn more about Red Bank Elementary’s maker space, contact Laura Howell Dowd at

Guest Post: Summer Camp and Progress at Art 120

May 14, 2015 – Kate Warren, Art 120

Art 120 is gearing up for a fun-filled summer with exciting opportunities for both youth and adults! They plan unveil their brand new creative maker space in fall of 2015 and will seek input from Chattanooga youth to guide them on creating the perfect maker space.

Summer 2015 at Art 120: Urban Art Bike Workshops


Take one idea, throw in a bunch of recycled objects, and in just 40 hours, create a sculpture you can ride!

Students ages 11 -15 will work in teams to complete several art bike contraptions. Students will have fun learning about the art of sculpture, design, fabrication, engineering, problem solving, and introduction to welding. This hands-on day, fee based camp will take place at Art 120’s Urban Art Bike Studio located at 1511 Williams Street just off the south corner of Main Street and Williams.

The Urban Art Bike Summer Camp will be held Monday through Friday, 8:00am – noon from June 15th-26th. On June 27th, we will hold a special exhibition in Coolidge Park to exhibit the students’ work. Email us at: for a camp registration form.



Adults, we have a class for you too. Due to popular demand, we are offering our teacher training program from June 8th- June 12th. Makers, educators, artists, and folks that are interested in working with youth are eligible to enroll. Cost for the class is $400 and teachers who complete the program will be eligible to receive a teaching stipend for mentoring youth in our summer program. Adults will learn our curriculum, how to weld, use a variety of power tools, and build art bikes in teams. This program is perfect for teachers who are interested in integrating art bikes as part of their school or youth program curriculum. Contact us at to learn more.

Since we began the Urban Art Bike workshop in 2010, we have been able to provide STE(A)M Workshops for forty-two urban youth from Avondale to Alton Park, creating eighteen art bikes in all. We also partner with organizations such as The Chattanooga Public Library, The Hunter Museum, The Creative Discovery Museum, River City Company, Glass House Collective, The Maker Faire community, and the local businesses to exhibit their work.