NEW BRITAIN – A local family has found a creative outlet and an opportunity for hands-on experience to grow and utilize their STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) skills at the CT Hackerspace.
Joshua Tenner, his wife Krystal and their children, Alice, 9, Erryrn, 8, and Iyann, 6, have been going to the Hackerspace, located at 30 Echo Lake Road, Watertown, for about a year-and-a-half. The New Britain family first discovered the Hackerspace on meetup.com, when a free, public, open house was being offered.
The Tenners learned the HackerSpace has regular meetups on Wednesdays, which anyone can attend for free.
“I was greeted by a friendly crowd of highly creative people and a large amount of expensive tools, including but not limited to a wood cutter machine, a 3D printer and metalworking equipment,” Tenner said.
Tenner said his experience at the CT Hackerspace has “been a total blast.”
“Often, when I need a space to hang out with creative, like-minded people, I go to the Hackerspace,” he said. “Usually, I am greeted with electric vehicle enthusiasts, programmers, metal-workers and people who work with 3-D computer models.”
While at the Hackerspace, Tenner’s projects have included working on a Raspberry PI computer that functions as a billboard for the wall displaying all the current events for the Hackerspace.
“My wife also used the 3D printer to print out a bunch of Minecraft chess pieces for a custom chess set,” he said. “She also used the [wood cutter] machine to 3D print a couple wood pieces for her girl scouts.”
The kids are kept separate from the heavy machinery, but there are still plenty of opportunities for them as well.
“I can set up code.org on the computer lab computers and it helps them learn how to write programs using Scratch,” Tenner said. “Among the coolest lessons, there are some Minecraft modules that really caught my son's eye. He gets very excited about it. We often show them how the 3D printer works and how to use it safely.”
Tenner encouraged those who want access to heavy machine equipment, programming classes, woodworking tools, metalworking machines or a computer lab to consider obtaining membership at the Hackerspace.
“This gives you access to the space whenever you need it,” he said. “If you don't know how to operate some of the machines, there are many people there who are willing to give their time to help you learn how to operate the equipment. There is also a very large student membership discount.”
“People first visit us for the use of our many workshops, but soon realize our biggest value is our community of people," added Bill Saturno, president and co-founder of the CT Hackerspace.
Those interested in learning more about the Hackerspace can visit cthackerspace.com, which regularly posts events that people can attend. Wednesday nights are free and open to the public.
“Just show up during ‘Open Nights’ and you can meet the people who run the space and get a hands-on tour,” said Tenner.
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or email@example.com.