Editor’s note: Dale Dougherty is the publisher and founder of MAKE magazine and the creator of Maker Faire. Tune in to CNN's The Next List at 2 p.m. ET on Sunday to see a 30-minute profile of Dale Dougherty.
By Dale Dougherty, Special to CNN
(CNN) - Joey Hudy, a young "maker" from Phoenix went to the White House this week to show off his project, the "Extreme Marshmallow Cannon." When President Obama saw it, he told Joey: "Let's try it." Joey set up the air cannon, which uses a bicycle pump to build up air pressure, and put a marshmallow down the barrel. When he pressed the trigger, a single marshmallow was shot out across the room to the delight of everyone, but especially the president.
I was proud of Joey's accomplishment and the journey that brought him to White House. That journey began at home, where he developed a love of making things. In fact, Joey found that he could do things at home - and do them well - even though he was struggling at school. Joey has Asperger’s Syndrome but I really wouldn't know that unless his parents told me. Joey first came to Maker Faire – an event for "makers," or people who make things with their hands – last year in the Bay Area and he brought the Extreme Marshmallow Cannon with him. His mother, Julie, told us that not only was the experience rewarding for Joey - he got to meet Adam Savage of Discovery Channel’s “Mythbusters” - but Joey made the connection between the work he was doing at home and what he saw makers doing. He knew that he was a maker and that he told his Mom that he "must be smart."
Joey then participated in the Maker Faires in Detroit and New York as well as a smaller independent Maker Faire in his hometown of Phoenix. He shared the instructions for the Extreme Marshmallow Cannon on Make Projects so that others could build it. As a result of all these efforts, Joey was selected to represent Maker Faire at the White House this week, along with winners of Science Fair competitions, and showcase how students can participate in science and technology. Who doesn't see an air cannon and want to build one themselves?
Makers start with that simple idea to do something, which is why we call it DIY - for "do it yourself." Soon, however, they find out that there are lots of people like you out there. When you find others, you have a community and that community offers a place to show your work, trade tools and swap ideas, and just have fun.
And this isn't just for some people, or just people who like air cannons. I believe we are all makers.
We can find all kinds of makers in our communities. Yet we also want to help create more makers. Through education and community outreach, we can offer the opportunity to make things to more people, but particularly children. They might find these opportunities at school but also at community centers, summer camps and science centers, or even at home. My goal is that all people, young and old, come to see themselves as makers, creators and doers because I know that the people who have the skills and knowledge to make things have the power to make the world a better place.
Just watch what Joey makes next.