Fishing for Makers

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This July, the NJ and MO AT Act Programs (ATAC and MoAT) teamed to host their first AT Maker Roundtable, and already they’re hooked. Won’t you join them?

Hands holding fishing rod.

“I have a problem,” says Shannon.

It’s about minute 26 of the Maker Roundtable, a Zoom event that’s about to turn monthly. The group has moved from a soulful discussion of Loc-Line and the quest for less expensive alternatives, to how to structure these maker brainstorming sessions. Mike Marotta, Director of NJ ATAC, has just finished saying, “We could have a moment where we take questions from the group, where you have a situation you can’t figure out and so we could all brainstorm a little.”

“I need help for a young lady with a tremor who needs a way to put a worm on a fishhook,” Shannon explains.

The group is boisterous and often wisecracks but presented with a unique problem for a unique individual, no one laughs. This is not frivolous and everyone is attentive.

“Does it have to be a worm?” Someone asks. Because PowerBait might be easier than a live wiggling worm.

Shannon readily agrees. The young woman could more easily hook PowerBait. “But she wants to fish with worms because that’s what the fish are biting at the lake!”

16 maker-heads bob with understanding. The task may be bait on a hook, but the goal is reeling in a live one!

Soon Mike suggests an alligator clip above the hook. It might be easier, safer, to clip the worm. Shannon doesn’t take the bait. That would work for catfish, she acknowledges. But not sunfish. Sunfish are sensitive to weight.

It’s sunfish that are biting around the dock.

A robust exchange follows with ideas for securing the worm independently, for a device that could be made so that this young woman can hook a worm without accidentally hooking her fingers. Something like a book to close on the worm? Or a slot to insert the worm? This could help a lot of people, someone observes. Kids especially (“My dad lost a lot of fishing time hooking worms for his 5 kids!”)

Mike says, “Great, now I’m going to think of nothing else all day. I knew this would happen. I’ll be building this at my desk with index cards….”

But Kip beats him to it.

A day later, Mike receives a picture of a Worm Hooker prototype. (Kip is currently refining his design and will upload to Thingiverse when it’s tested and ready).

“What did we learn? We learned that AT people are awesome!” Mike exudes when AT3 News and Tips reaches out about an article. “No, who am I kidding – we already knew that. But what we did see in action was the power of the group mind to solve a problem.”

A 3D printed tube with a long slot and a hook groove. Worm Hooker is printed on one half.
Worm Hooker prototype by Kip Lewis

The Maker Roundtable is the brainchild of Mike Marotta and Scout Merry (AT Specialist with MoAT). The idea spawned from ATIA last year, where Mike facilitated Scout’s session on making durable AT. Last spring, Scout conducted a webinar for ATAC on making and they got to talking about a virtual maker meeting, similar to the ATAC AT Town Halls which brainstorm AT issues with educators.

For the Maker Roundtable, Scout began by discussing his adapted articulated paintbrush (made from PVC and Loc-Line). Someone suggested he pursue a preliminary patent. “That sounds like a lot of work,” he said. Plus, his goal is for people to just create what they need, see his invention, and make their own so they have it. Mike agreed.

Do you need help troubleshooting a device? Have a task you’d like to accomplish independently? Know someone with a unique challenge?

The Maker Roundtable wants you!

Here’s the schedule going forward:

August 18 @ 12-12:45 Eastern Registration

September 15 @ 12-12:45 Registration

October 13 @ 12-12:45 Eastern Registration

November 17 @ 12-12:45 Eastern Registration

December 15 @ @ 12-12:45 Eastern Registration