Department of Making + Doing

University City Science Center

Funding Received: 2013
Philadelphia, PA
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
July 8, 2013


On May 11th, The Department of Making + Doing (DMD) opened the doors of its new Civic Innovation Lab with a daytime launch event that was buzzing with activity fueled by the attendance of local families and volunteers from all four partner organizations – Breadboard, The Hacktory, NextFab Studio and Public Workshop. The DMD launch event introduced the new space and programming to a wide variety of attendees from local families to college students and people passing by. The day was filled with a variety of hands-on making activities for all ages including screen-printing posters and wooden bench-building. The Hacktory made special conductive play-dough for an activity they call “Squishy Circuits”. Participants create electrical circuits by hand molding the play-dough into shapes and then connecting LEDs, wiring and batteries.

The DMD team was hard at work leading up to the launch of the space. In addition to coordinating activities and promoting the launch event, team members dedicated time and resources in preparing the space. There was a general cleanup effort, painting and vinyl wall graphics development and placement. The space has been truly transformed! This was a fantastic beginning transition from governance and partnership development to operations.

A large hyper-graphic on the glass doors entering the space reads “This is a Place to Think + Dream + Make + Do.” At the launch event the DMD partners intent was to listen to and engage community members based on their personal interests. Visitors were asked to help envision the future programming of the space by answering a one question survey, "What would you like to make or do?" The hand-written answers were displayed on the walls with responses including “Canoe w/ Circuits”, “A Pocket Waterbottle”, “Make Snowshoes” and one that simply states "Robot Zebra" in a child’s hand writing. Since the event, “Robot Zebra” has become a sort of motto amongst the DMD partners, serving as a continuing reminder to stay imaginative and dream big as we move to operate this new space and civic innovation lab.

Recent Wins

Social Media buzz:

Prior to the event we were able to garner social media buzz including Donna Frisby-Greenwood (head of Knight Arts, Philly Office) tweeted the following with our DMD launch link! "...We don't wait for inspiration, we chase it down with circuits + chainsaws.."

Media buzz:

Initial program was highlighted in Flying Kite:

Our program launch was featured in Technically Philly.