Best-selling author and Zuckerberg Media founder/CEO Randi Zuckerberg is introducing her latest project in Chattanooga this weekend.
She’s beta testing Sue’s Tech Kitchen, which is an experienceZuckerberg dreamed up in an effort to introduce STEM to children, especially girls, at a young age.
Children can press apples that play like a piano.They can use candy to create a code that makes a robot move and eat 3-D-printed s’mores.
“I spent the last 10 years pretty much as the only woman in the room in Silicon Valley, and I have been spending so much time thinking about how [to make sure that doesn’t] happen for future generations,” she said Thursday evening as engineers put the finishing touches on Sue’s Tech Kitchen.
Many middle and high schools have great STEM programs, but experiences for younger children are harder to come by, she said.
“I feel like there’s very little for the preschool and early elementary set,” she said. “A lot of the data shows that it’s really by about third grade that girls start to say, ‘I’m not good at math and science.’ That’s really the next chapter of my life-all about creating content that puts smart, savvy entrepreneurial girls at the center.”
Zuckerberg visited Chattanooga earlier this yearand spokeat theChattanooga Women’s Leadership Institute’s12th annual Impact Leadership Dinner.
After seeing the city’s Innovation District and learning about Chattanooga’s work to promote entrepreneurs, she said she knew this was the ideal place to launch Sue’s Tech Kitchen.
She toured the Tomorrow Building and was impressed by the entrepreneurial live-work space. She saw Branch Technology’s work and met area investors, she said.
“That was my first introduction to Chattanooga,”Zuckerberg said of her speaking gig for CWLI. “When you think about entrepreneurial cities, different cities come to mind, but not Chattanooga. When I came here, I was blown away.”
During the beta test, the experience includes candy and s’mores, but the dream is to make the project a full-service sit-down restaurant that parents and children can enjoy.
In that dream, Sue’s mom might have a bar where the parents can sit and eat while the children play and learn elsewhere, she said.
“I have two kids of my own, and I feel like a lot of dining experiences out there-either the parents are dragging kids to things that are good for adults or kids are dragging their parents to Chuck E. Cheese,” she said.
The test kitchen is open July 28-30 from noon to 8 p.m. in the Tomorrow Building, located at 818 Georgia Ave.
Although the site says slots are sold out, Zuckerberg said she wants to get as many children through as possible, so people are welcome to stop by and see if there’s availability.