Copernicus Science Centre in Warsaw has always been a place open for everyone who is interested in science and how it can be applied in practice. There is a lot interactive exhibits for all ages (the youngest visitors love the Buzzz! gallery). A few months ago the Centre hosted the Makerland, a conference for makers.
Last Thursday the Centre has opened Thinkatorium1, a place where everyone can learn to hack simply by starting hacking. There are going to be desks, tools and materials. "There is no deadline, no specific instructions, and the solution is unknown." That's how it's been advertised. I really wondered what does it mean so I decided to visit the place today.
The room is on the first floor (the first above the ground floor) and it is hard to miss it thanks to a clear sign above the door.
Welcome to Thinkatorium
Right behind the door there is a board with yellow pages. They contain different tasks for visitors. There are topics of tasks, difficulty level (lower right corner) and expected time required (lower left). This means there isn't complete anarchy. Those who have never hacked before may have problems answering two questions at the same time. What to do? How to do it?
I chose "The Tower" and got appropriately labelled toolbox from the "wareshelf".
In the toolbox there were: one pair of scissors, two staplers, drinking straws, a quite heavy orange ball and a leaflet describing the goal. The goal was to build a tower that would withstand the ball put on its top for one minute.
Work in progress
The little fellow helped with with the stapler every time I said "squeeze" and after a quarter the first tower was ready.
The next attempt took us significantly longer. After no less than twenty squeezes my assistant was a bit tired and I had to make the final fixes myself.
The other tasks I saw people working on were "Melting" and "Shadows" There were also some pieces of pool-noodles stuck on barbecue skewers flying in a vertical wind tunnel.
Experienced hackers may find the tasks and toolboxes a bit limited and/or limiting, however, this simplicity may help them introduce others to tinkering as a way of solving everyday problems.
Actually "Tinkertorium" might be more accurate translation of the Polish "Majsternia".