In 2007, Silver Dollar City gave Best of Missouri Hands a generous donation of $4000 which was used to purchase 4 Dell laptop computers for the officers of the Board of Directors. These were well used for many purposes, from keeping financial records to grant application to writing press releases.
As the years went by, it was found that the laptops were used less and less. Board members’ personal computers became more and more powerful while the old laptops fell behind the times. It didn’t make sense to try to upgrade the laptops due to the hardware configuration.
While it might make sense in the future to purchase one or more BOMH laptops, the board decided that board members would continue to use their own personal computers for board business in conjunction with secure web-based applications and storage. After the March 2014 board meeting, the board voted to donate the laptops to a 501c3 education organization, Arch Reactor, after the hard drives were scrubbed of any personal information.
Arch Reactor is an organization based in St Louis which is sometimes known as a “Hackerspace” or “Makerspace”. The first name might invoke images of people hunched over computers trying to hack into your credit card company, but this could not be further from the truth. A more descriptive name is “Makerspace”.
Arch Reactor is at the forefront of what has become known as the Maker Movement, a group of people from all walks of life who are driven to create. The spirit of the movement is identical to the spirit of the arts and fine crafts movement, but there is a more of an emphasis on technology and function. The creative spirit, the pursuit of artistic expression from an idea to a plan to something you can hold in your hands and say “I made that!” is the same.
The St Louis Science Center recently held an event known as Bright Ideas Expo in which members of Arch Reactor used a number of laptops, including those donated by BOMH, to conduct educational workshops in which attendees learned to program the Arduino. The cutely named Arduino is an inexpensive mini-computer/programmable controller which hundreds of thousands of hobbyists and professionals worldwide have put to use building such things as automated watering systems, home energy control systems, and even robots.
Arch Reactor also participated in the Kansas City Maker Faire, held at Union Station at the end of June, in which they helped educate and inspire people from all ages and all walks of life as to the very real possibility of learning and building the inventions of tomorrow using the technology of today. “This family-friendly event demonstrates what and how people are inventing, making and creating. It brings together Makers, Crafters, Inventors, Hackers, Scientists and Artists for a faire full of fun and inspiration.”
The Maker Movement encompasses young and old alike and offers the promises of helping us continue to invent, innovate, and create. The Best of Missouri Hands has always supported the spirit of the creative potential in all of us and is proud to have had a small part supporting the mission of Arch Reactor.
Thanks to John Reskusich and the members of Arch Reactor for helping to keep the creative spirit alive and well!