Thursday, January 18, 2018

More Than Just Hacking

Kagan Conrad
The Hack Shack has faced difficulty in attracting new customers recently. I think, in part, this is due to its name. In most people's minds, the word Hack has a heavy connotation with computers and technology. While this isn't exactly wrong, I feel that, in the Hack Shack’s case, it doesn't do the space justice. To the uninformed, this room appears the be only for activities like 3D printing, coding, and Raspberry Pis. Because of this, I find many of those who don't consider themselves “computer people,” to be turned away from the Hack Shack, thinking there is nothing here for them. This is what I feel prevents the Hack Shack future success. Public misconceptions about people think the Hack Shack is meant for have led to it reaching a smaller demographic. This results in fewer returning customers as well as fewer new customers. Without something about this situation changing, I don't think the Hack Shack will be able to continue. 
I have wanted to find a way to address this problem for some time. I wanted to find a way to make it clearer to the student body that the Hack Shack has more to offer than just hacking. Though I think using the Cricut for sticker making was a step in the right direction, more could be done. Making stickers still required a certain amount of “Hacking” knowledge, and there is a learning curve in using the design tool that turns some kids away. Sophie and Mrs. Stetson’s idea to bring mitten making and sewing into the Hack Shack is exactly the type of thing the Hack Shack needs to begin fixing this problem. It defies the “Hack” stereotype and generates interest from people who would not typically visit the Hack Shack otherwise. During the mitten making workshop the week before vacation, numerous students who had never even stepped foot in the Hack Shack, decided to visit in order to take part. What I think makes this activity so great is how it reaches new customers while still sticking to the ideals of the Hack Shack. While not a typical “hack” related activity, the sewing workshop still teaches students to use a new tool and create something for themselves in the process. It's a perfect example of how the Hack Shack can branch out while still keeping with the values of a makerspace.

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