We have amazing members! Read the wonderful maker story below to learn more about Paulette Richards who joined us with an interest in art, ended up learning about coding and technology, and (in true maker fashion) weaved the two together for her cool animatronic puppetry which she uses to teach kids about programming. Most recently, she was recognized as a finalist in the Maker Faire Atlanta 2017 Innovation Fellowship competition. She’s also teaching an Animatronics Workshop for Kids during the school break near the end of December (what a great holiday gift certificate idea!) For more info and to register, CLICK HERE
And special thanks to Decatur Makers member, Diane Loupe, for writing the story below.
Paulette Richards earned a Ph.D. from the University of Virginia and before Hurricane Katrina had earned tenure in an English Department in New Orleans but she wanted more.
“I pursued that career to please my parents but what I really wanted to be was an artist. I just didn’t know what kind,” says Richards, who works for Georgia Institute for Technology’s Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics & Computing (CEISMC) as one of four Innovators in Residence assigned to Hollis Innovation Academy, a K-8 STEM school on the Westside of Atlanta.
With the help of Decatur Makers, she found her calling as a puppeteer. She came to the maker space two years ago to learn 3D printing, but sitting next to her was Charles Redwine II, a Founding Member of Decatur Makers, who taught her about Arduinos, open-source electronics platforms based on easy-to-use hardware and software.
“Since I am a volunteer docent in the Worlds of Puppetry Museum at the Center for Puppetry Arts, I had spent a lot of time standing next to animatronic puppets from the Henson Workshop,” she said. “So when Charles showed me what Arduinos could do, I immediately thought of building animatronic puppets.”
Since joining Decatur Makers, Paulette says she’s “received tremendous support and encouragement for my animatronic puppets.” She also built a birdhouse in the wood shop and an imperfectly soldered Blinky Bot.
Richards says she’s been surprised and pleased with the support DM gives to women and girls.
“I did not have a technical background before I came to the maker space but everyone made me feel welcome. I like the attitude here that assumes women are fully capable of developing maker skills that have traditionally been seen as ‘men’s work.’ I also appreciate that Decatur Makers recognizes skills traditionally associated with women (sewing and fiber arts) as maker skills.”
She will be offering a Winter Break Animatronics Camp at Decatur Makers December 27th, 28th, and 29th from 1:30 – 3pm each day for kids ages 8-13.
And she’s not finished learning. “I want to get better at building electronic circuits and programming Arduinos so I can make better animatronic puppets. I would also like to do at least one 3D print on my own.”