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The Hacktory continues to inspire innovation in West Philly

May 12, 2015

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Those walking by the Science Center building on 37th and Market street can see colorful displays on the first floor windows, but little do most know that those colorful displays belong to an innovation tech camp called The Hacktory. The name was created to describe two goals the group set out to accomplish: find solutions and create products.

An early inception of the organization was created in 2007, which met on a monthly basis to celebrate do-it-yourself efforts in engineering and technology. Georgia Guthrie, The Hacktory’s executive director, began volunteering with the group right before it ran out of steam in 2009 but she was determined to keep it going in some sort of capacity.

Today, The Hacktory has three teachers and one teaching assistant. Currently one workshop is being offered, a micro controller programming class for Raspberry Pi. Past classes have covered topics such as building a bike bag, building a DIY arcade, intro to data mapping with map-making interface CatroDB and more.

The Hacktory also offers a weekly after-school program for 3rd to 5th graders (Kid’s Club), and enrollment has begun for its summer camp programs, which kick off on June 22. 

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Photos courtesy of The Hacktory.

Even though The Hacktory is not directly affiliated with the Science Center, the small non-profit does have the perk of subsidized rent and space to make accomplishing its mission a little more feasible with some other like-minded organizations under the umbrella name of The Department of Making and Doing. Through this umbrella, The Hacktory qualified for some grants that would have otherwise been impossible to attain.

Future plans for the organization include offering students scholarships in the area to attend summer camp programs and hopefully having an independent space within a few years. “We aim to still be around,” Guthrie told West Philly Local.

Another goal is to address gender disparity in the tech world. “I have a lot of ideas for tools we can provide educators, parents and students with. I would like to make it more widely available,” Guthrie said.

Currently, classes are still intermittent but there are plans to create a more regular schedule. Classes are posted on the website at thehacktory.org. For those curious about The Hacktory, there’s a weekly open house on Thursdays from 7-9 p.m. on the ground floor of 3711 Market Street, right next to Han Dynasty.

Rana Fayez

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