Regardless of their level of participation, everyone who attends 48Hour Launch can gain from the experience. We recently spoke with Matthew Craig, digital media guru and Technology Coordinator at Normal Park Museum Magnet School. Matthew’s imagination was sparked when he attended last year’s 48Hour Launch. “It’s incredible what can happen when you put a bunch of really smart people in a room like that,” he says. The event gave him ideas that he was later able to implement at the school, for the benefit of the community.

Matthew originally went to 48Hour Launch hoping to share his idea to reduce the number of streetlights in Chattanooga. “I didn’t realize the event was geared towards tech start-ups,” he says. “I figured out pretty quick that my idea wasn’t going to work there, but I was glad I stuck around.”

Although he saved his own idea for another day, Matthew decided to stay and listen to other pitches. “I was really inspired by Chattanooga 3D’s project,” he says. Launched by Stephen and Karen Culp, the project proposed using crowd-sourcing to construct a detailed three-dimensional model of the city with Google’s free modeling software, SketchUp. “I had no idea that SketchUp existed, and it blew my mind as soon as I saw it.” Matthew immediately started brainstorming ways he could integrate the new tool into Normal Park’s existing technology program.

Normal Park is currently seeking grants to enable the addition of an outdoor lunch area and an outdoor lab classroom. During a conversation with one of the parents overseeing the project, Matthew realized it was an opportunity for students to use SketchUp in the classroom. “It was a perfect opportunity to get them involved,” he says.

Matthew sees SketchUp as a valuable tool for the classroom that can help students become more conscientious citizens. “When they have a hand in designing things, it really gets them engaged,” he says. “It helps them realize that they have a voice, and it gives them a sense of responsible citizenship.” After designing their building plans, students were able to take still captures of the models they made in SketchUp and integrate them seamlessly into video presentations created in iMovie.

In the future, Matthew plans to work with students at Normal Park to build a detailed model of the school and the surrounding grounds. “The models that you can create in SketchUp are really useful for events planning,” he says. “We could even use them to create digital fly-through tours of the school.” Matthew hopes Normal Park can one day use those features to plan its annual outdoor arts and music festival, Normal-Palooza.

Now, what will you learn from this year’s 48Hour Launch that you can use in the community, your career, or a new venture? Click here to register for the weekend and/or click here to sign up to pitch your concept on Pitch Night.

Here are some more details on 48Hour Launch.