Genius Hour Expo to Showcase Student Work at Tom Tom Fest

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Some young engineers and entrepreneurs will soon get a chance to show off some of their inspiring ideas. It's all part of a popular Charlottesville festival that's showcasing innovators of all ages.

The Tom Tom Founder's Festival gets underway next month with the goal to bring together art, music, and innovation. This year some students are joining the action and sharing their genius ideas.

The Genius Hour Expo is like a science fair but it encompasses much more. Dozens of students of all ages will be sharing art and music as well as engineering and computer projects. Organizers hope it will be interactive.

Nate Carlson, an eighth-grader at Sutherland Middle School, plans to share a telegraph he made with a 3D printer.

"I just find it so cool how you can go onto your computer and make anything on a program and then in under a minute you can just move it onto a little SD card and plug it into the computer and then in a couple of hours you have your object," said Carlson. "I just think it's so interesting how you can do that."

Sammi Rocker is a 12th-grade student enrolled in Albemarle High School's Math Engineering and Science Academy (MESA). Rocker said she has worked on several projects through the program - computer coding, 3D design and animation and even using excel to create forums to manipulate data. But her favorite project was making an electric guitar.

"We had to not only understand the physics and electronics behind building electric guitars and the pickups that actually create the sound through the amplifier, but also kind of apply that artistic side and design the guitar however we choose," she said.

Both Carlson and Rocker are looking forward to presenting at the Genius Hour Expo.

"I think it's going to be a lot of fun for one. I think it's going to be a great learning experience," Carlson said

"I think that Tom Tom is a great outlet to express some of the cool things that are going on around Charlottesville that maybe some people don't know about," said Rocker. "And MESA is just a great way to learn not only about engineering, but also to learn how to be entrepreneurial, how to work with others, work off soft deadlines and hard deadlines and work as a team it's nice to express that to the rest of the community."

The Tom Tom Founder's Festival is April 9 through 13. The free Genius Hour Expo is Saturday April 12 from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Lee Park.

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