YuKonstruct’s computer lab is electric with creativity and camaraderie.
Okay, it usually is, but more so tonight. It is six days from the deadline of the Hackathon, a contest from www.instructables.com, which is an online community of people making stuff and sharing their creations.
If the members of YuKkonstruct win, they will collect the prizes that include a 3D printer, laser printer, welder and more. That’s $30,000 of prizes.
But, what the heck is a “Hackathon”?
“Just see Allison,” I am told. “She’s back there somewhere.”
But I am stopped by a welcoming smile from Amy Law. You can just tell that she is jazzed.
“Right now I’m working on an instructable on how to thread an industrial sewing machine,” she says.
“We are in a contest with other Makerspaces, so anybody who is a member here can post anything they make on www.instructables.com.
“I made this little jewelry box and took pictures along the way of how I did it, wrote out how I did it and posted it to the website.”
Law has done 17 of these, so far, and could have done more if she weren’t helping others with their projects.
“It’s collaborative,” she says with a shrug. She explains that she works for the Yukon government and YuKonstruct is her “creative thing.”.
So, will YuKonstruct win the international contest?
“Yes!” says Law, with a laugh that is tinged with playful reproach.
Seann Springford enjoyed the stupid question, too.
“When you consider we are a group of 72 individuals drawing from a base of 30,000, ” he patiently explains. “and we are at best overall for submissions, and the next-placed city draws on a population base of quite a few million, in my opinion that makes us winners right off the top,.” Springford says.
Springford has posted three instructables so far and has two others in draft form. He is here tonight to get Law’s help with writing up the step-by-step instructions for the photos he has taken already.
“She has a better skill with words than I do,” he says of Law.
Clearly, his genius is reserved for the creation he is holding in his hand. It is a “Trapped Cube,”, a hollowed-out wooden box with large holes on each side displaying a wooden cube –… that is too large to fit through any of the holes.
How did you get it in there?
“You have to read the instructable,” he says good-naturedly.
Springford enjoys the moment for just a bit, then he obliges: “Take the cube, mark the centre on each side, then you go around and start to drill down into each cube and slowly go around the cube and then you end up with that. Super … super simple.”
Uh, huh. Hold it, what?
“It is like anything, once you understand it, it becomes super simple and it is fun,” Springford sayscontinues. “It took me 15 minutes. It is fun to hand it to someone and say, ‘Figure that out’.’”
Yeah, but 400 years ago, this would have gotten Springford burned at the stake.
“Probably, most of the things in here were high-level magic 400 years ago,” he agrees.
“This is probably the greatest concentration of creativity I have ever been around.
“It is phenomenal the different minds and the way they work and the things they come up with.”
There is a voice approaching slowly.
“Do you have a patch?
“Do you want a patch?
“I don’t think we’ve met. I’m Allison.”
Springford completes the introductions: “This is Allison, she is the driving force behind instructables.
“I’m the team captain for this contest,” Allison Button saysclarifies.
“That means I am the one who is harassing everyone and rounding up the troops.”
She is also in charge of strategy. Button explains that, as of one week out, YuKonstruct had 108 submissions to www.instructables.com. And, in a lowered voice, she admits to having a cache of even more to submit at the last minute.
“We got blindsided by Coventry Makers,” she says. “They jumped into the competition with 52 instructables all at once.”
Tonight, it is a full court press.
“This is like a barn raising,” says Button. “We get together and get a lot of work done.
“All of our computers up and running with nine computers and high-speed Internet and we are providing the instructable app so they can use their smartphonessmart phones or tablets.
“And there is a photo studio with a light tent and some very talented photographers, here, if anyone needs help to make their pictures look good.”
But this is a Hackathon. Are America’s nuclear codes safe from a security breach tonight from this gang?
“No, we are not hacking into computers,” says Button. “It is like ‘life hacks’. You know, tweaking and changing or making.
“A hackathon is an event where we make things.”
So, the contest has to come to an end but, alas, a winner wasn’t named before press time. But it was close.
“The 258 instructables we entered in the contest are a fantastic record of our members’ talents,” says Button by email. “And also wonderful examples of what Yukoners can learn to make at YuKonstruct.”