Weekend Warriors!

At Protospace, we don’t sleep very often (well, at least I don’t), and this weekend was no exception. We had our hands full this weekend with interviews, the opening of the new science centre and planning of our upcoming Make:Art workshop.

Our weekend was kicked off friday morning when Shannon and I took part in the WestJet Fall Fair. Protospace and Endeavor shared a table that we used to promote both of our awesome local businesses to the rest of the Calgary public. We had business cards, kits, demos and lots of conversation that we provided to curious passer-bys. Nearing the end of the fair, we were visited by Andrew Schrock – a researcher at the University of Southern California.

Andrew is a part of a research team that are interested in the Maker Movement and the emergence of creative communities around the world. A few months ago, I casually invited Andrew over Twitter to utilize Protospace as a case study for his research, and next thing I knew he booked a hotel and jumped on a plane from LAX to YYC! Andrew spent most of his weekend interviewing Protospacers (both past and present) to learn about our community and our vision for our future. Videos, audio interviews and other components of Andrew’s research will be used to create a eBook coedited by himself and Anne Balsamo of USC Annenberg. I’m really looking forward to their completed product, and not just because Protospace might be in it!

During his stay, we had the pleasure of introducing Andrew to the Calgary’s new science center that opened this weekend – TELUS Spark! Spark is innovative, interactive and non-traditional – there is an entire workshop upstairs that strongly resembles a hackerspace atmosphere, complete with soldering irons and electronic projects! I have been looking forward for the grand opening of Spark for months as one of our members (Dana Schloss) is a director of content there. Dana is a professional tinkerer as her job entails her designing, prototyping and creating new exhibits for Spark almost every week (I’m very jealous of this) so seeing all of her accomplishments yesterday was a mind-blowing experience. In addition, Andrew and I were even able to do a behind-the-scenes video interview with the developers of the electronics platform found in every exhibit.

The designers have created a set of modular, daisy-chainable, Arduino compatible devices that allow every exhibit to have an interactive component that can be easily swapped out or upgraded as the requirements change. The video of our interview might be included in Andrew’s “Postcards from the Maker Movement” initiative that might compliment the book release. I’m purchasing a Gold Membership to Spark this Thursday when I go back for another visit – hours and address are found on their Contact Page.

Our next hang out session that’s open to the public is Tuesday (tomorrow) at 7pm, address details are available in our About section.

More importantly, we have some Solarbotics merchandise available for sale! Kits are available at our merchandise table, are meant for all age levels and range from $5 – $40. These make great Christmas presents and stocking stuffers, so be sure to bring some cash to either start your holiday shopping early or to make an interactive kit with your own two hands!

I also spent a bunch of time over the weekend working on my Peggy2 ultimate project, where I take a Peggy2, 625 LEDs, a 4×4 sheet of plywood and tonnes of glue, solder & CAT5 to make an epic outdoor sign! I’ll continue to work on the Peggy2 Ultimate tomorrow and our drink bot will be getting some love, the door system will be in it’s final stages and we’ll be discussing preparations for this weekend’s workshop.

On a final note, this upcoming weekend we are sponsoring a workshop called Make:Art for the Light Up The Neighbourhood initiative. Protospace will be operating as the technical sponsor for this event in partnership with Light Up The World, Endeavor Arts, and Victoria Park BRZ to facilitate the creation of creative holiday decorations that include LEDs, micro controllers and solar cells. For more details, check out our pages for our Make:Art Workshop and LUTN!

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