Juneau, Alaska, has a hackspace with the rather formal name of "the STEM satellite space of the Juneau Economic Development Council." Despite the funny name, it sounds like a top-notch hackspace, and it has just expanded its remit to cover adult use as well as kids' programs. Melissa Griffiths of the Juneau Empire has a charming profile of the space and its proprietor, Bob Vieth.
“It’s to teach the lost art of tinkering. When I was a kid, I tinkered. My father tinkered. My father was not an educated man, he was a farmer from Missouri” Bob said, pronouncing it like a true Missouran would, “But I remember when I was a kid, my dad’s hobby was to collect old TV sets that people would throw in the garbage, and taking these TV sets and building new ones that worked. He had no education, he just learned how to do it. By reading, seeing how things worked.”
The Saturday Thing allows kids to tinker with the help and supervision of Bob and other volunteers on Saturday mornings through whenever, Bob said. It starts at 9:30 and parents should pre-register their kids. Now, adults can get in on the fun too. Bob is starting a Saturday Thing (after dark) every third Thursday, starting this week. Yep, that’s The Saturday Thing (after dark) on Thursdays.
“(The Saturday Thing for kids) has been going on here in Juneau for a bit more than a year. But it didn’t originate here in Juneau. It started actually about 15 years ago by a good friend of mine at MIT in Cambridge, who runs a laboratory at the Edgerton Center, and he started opening up his door on Saturday mornings to whoever wanted to come in and tinker. It became very popular.” Bob said. “As it turns out, his college roommate when he went to MIT is a professor up at UAF in Fairbanks, who just retired actually a week ago, he started a Thing in Fairbanks about two years ago. I heard about it… and we had some extra space here in the office, so I figured ‘why not do it here?’”
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(Image: Michael Penn/Juneau Empire)
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