Phoebe Cade Miles’ vision for the museum named for her father extends to the next generation of innovators and inventors who are being nurtured in a building on Gainesville’s South Main Street.
About 2,000 children ages 6 to 12 have taken classes during the past few years in the Creativity Lab in what is now the Cade Museum for Creativity+Invention. They learn the basics of various sciences such as chemistry and physics within sight of the actual lab equipment Dr. James Robert Cade used as the lead inventor of Gatorade at the University of Florida almost 50 years ago.
Students learn to think like an inventor, meet one and become one, she said.
“It really is to inspire the next generation of creative thinkers and inventors and to connect with the innovative economy of the future,” Miles said. The museum also makes it a priority to help poorer students through scholarships. “We’ve never turned down a kid for a lack of funds.”
Now, the museum has added a fabrication lab, doubling the amount of teaching space, and complete with 3D printers, laser cutters and every tool needed to teach students to understand concepts and stimulate their imaginations.
The museum opened the “fab lab” last week, thanks to a $25,000 gift from Michael Singer, a local supporter of the arts and the community, and a $10,000 donation from the Plum Creek Foundation. Miles also unveiled a newly repurposed warehouse at the rear of the property that will house some of Cade’s Studebaker collection. Part of the museum’s original charter was to showcase them.
Cade collected more than 60 of the vintage cars, and his daughter weighed in on why he regarded the automaker’s models so highly and also collected 30 antique violins.
“The more I thought about the Studebakers and the violins, I started seeing a connection,” she said. “He wouldn’t ever have articulated it in this way, but it’s the perfect blend of science and technology and beautiful design.”
Studebaker always employed the best designers in the nation, who would work with the technologists to create a work of art you could drive, Miles said.
As they considered plans, “We thought the real essence of my Dad was blending science and art in a creative way,” she said. As she has met more inventors, she found they are often trained in the arts or they have the mindset of an artist.
“So the more we thought about the vision of the museum, it wasn’t about Studebakers, it was about what makes a Studebaker, what makes a violin, what makes a creative person, what makes a scientist into an inventor,” she said.
Jennifer Denault, COO of the Cade Museum, said they originally expected to wait until the new museum was built before adding fab lab equipment. But the demand was there, and the students were interested. “We actually had the ability to make it happen, and thanks to Phoebe’s vision, a lot of pushing and the generosity of our funders, we were able to redesign this space,” Denault said.
Volunteers from the UF College of Engineering are helping staff to introduce students to the technology. In the fall, the museum will start classes specifically dedicated to the fab lab.
“This equipment is very expensive so most students would never see it, much less be able to actively use it,” Denault said in a news release. “And the best part is all this equipment will be moved into our new space across the street once it is built. But in the mean time we can start classes and camps now that we know students and parents want.”
Miles, who is the president of the Cade Museum Foundation Board and CEO of the Cade Museum, said they expect to break ground for the new 45,000-square-foot facility in early October, on the 50th anniversary of Gatorade’s creation. Cade died in 2007.
For more information on the Cade Museum, visit www.cademuseum.org.
Ron Wayne is a communicator working with startups in the Gainesville region.
He can be reached at [email protected]