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President’s Report, October 2023

Child with robot in the forest


Some people love Fall and Winter.  Not me.  So, I as I go into hibernation, here’s my update from the world’s only nonprofit focused on improving the lives of Chatham, NC, residents through technology.  Innovate Chatham uses our network of members and friends to help other nonprofits, residents, students, schools, and County government.  We focus on digital inclusion, STEM education, and monthly free public presentations on technical topics of interest.  Here is my report on what we have been doing lately.

Chatham Tech Talk

Artificial Intelligence

Bill Ammerman gave a great presentation on AI and patiently answered our questions.  I wrote a summary of his important points which include a number of warnings about being subtly influenced by technology using your own data to maximum effect.    Read it here.

Bill Ammerman Tech Talk on AI
Bill Ammerman Tech Talk on AI

The next Tech Talk is a spooky one about the invisible creatures that live with and on us, mites.  Our friend, Judy Savage, was ‘visited’ by an infestation and has a personal and biotechnical story to tell, October 12, 5pm at 79°West, in Pittsboro.

Tech Talk: Mites by Jody Savage
Tech Talk: Mites by Jody Savage

13 Spooky Facts about Mites

More information about Tech Talks is on our website here.

Digital Inclusion Plan

Grant Opportunities

Innovate Chatham is in contact with the NC DIT on our proposal to install a few free public wireless stations around Chatham.   They are considering if the Digital Champion Grand money is applicable for this purpose.

Jesse Bradley and I worked on the idea of creating a Tech Hub in Siler City.  A Tech Hub can include a number of nonprofit assets such as a computer refurbishment center, a STEM and robotics center, a digital learning classroom, a telehealth booth, a workforce recruitment center, etc.   This is an idea that would require about $1 million in funding.   Here is a rough draft of our idea.  Let us know if you have contacts with foundations that might be interested to help.

Tech hub proposal
Tech hub proposal

Digital Inclusion Plan

There is no update on the Chatham Digital Inclusion Plan this month.

STEM Education

A Jordan Matthews High School student and I started a computer club that meets after school on Fridays.  We have two app contests that we would like to enter. The first submissions are for November 1, for the Congressional App Challenge.  This will be a difficult timeline, but we wouldn’t have had the chance if I had not shared the opportunity with the office of NC District 9 who never participated previously.

I have taught two lessons about Python.  It is a challenge to provide a development environment for them given the school restrictions on devices and software.  We are using Replit for Python. We will eventually use MIT App Inventor for mobile app development.  Read more about all this here.

I ran a fun event at JMHS for a  parent’s night event.  Give a bunch of kids some paper, tape and markers and it is amazing what they can do.  One 11-year old astounded me.  She said she was going to create a boy on a trampoline, then proceded to cut out two shapes and then colored them.  In about 20 minutes she had created something amazing and was very chill about it. 

paper boy on trampoline
paper boy on trampoline

Another kid built an amazing castle.

paper castle
paper castle

STEM Club at the Boys and Girls Club with Erin Denniston picks up again this week.

Volunteer Opportunities

We are always interested in having additional volunteers.  In most cases, we prioritize opportunities based on volunteer interest.  So, let me know if you would like to help with any of these things, or you can suggest possibilities for us to help:

  • Technical topic presentation – we need topic and presenter suggestions
  • STEM Club – we need volunteers to help in the Fall, maybe this summer
  • Instructor’s aides for basic computer classes
  • Tech Career Fairs – we always need a list of people to describe and discuss their tech careers at various high schools.
  • Science Fairs Judges – needed for Fall and spring to judge science and engineering projects while encouraging kids
  • Help with an ACP event – we would like to hold a few events to help folks complete the Federal discount program for internet access. This requires a couple of hours of free online training.
  • Congressional App Challenge – we would like to help middle and high schoolers build their own simple software app that they can submit for recognition in a contest. 
  • Search engine optimization help, and social media help

Please let me know, and we can chat further about your interests.

You are very welcome to share this newsletter with anyone you like.

Thanks for your membership and participation!

Not a member?  If you like our work at Innovate Chatham, please consider joining us as a paid member, which helps us cover the expenses of running a nonprofit.

Burney Waring
Innovate Chatham President

Innovate Chatham

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