Arts-Tech Fusion Hackathon

We are pairing computer science students and non-computer science students together for the ultimate, cross-disciplinary, weekend-long event! From Saturday to Sunday, you and a partner will work together to create an idea that combines technology with the arts. Think music, history, visual arts, gender studies, theatre, creative writing – anything you want! No coding experience required!

Over the weekend, we will meet guest speakers who combine arts with technology in their workplace every day. Take advantage of what they have to say and learn about career paths you may not have considered. Both the winning team and the runner-up will be given a chance to receive advising from one of our guest speakers after the Hackathon is over to take their ideas to the next level. The winning team will also receive a reserved place at the Creativity and Innovation Bootcamp happening this May (a two-week, all-expenses paid, immersive learning experience with a financial reward of $1000!).

Join us for a fantastic weekend! We’ll supply snacks, a great workspace to spark your creative potential, and we’ll be there to answer any questions you might have along the way.

What is a Hackathon?

A Hackathon is a weekend-long event for students to create and develop an idea to solve a problem. You bring your ideas and enthusiasm – we supply food to sustain you, speakers to inspire you, and a prize to incentivize you to give it your all. We will open the doors to the lab at 9:00am on Saturday morning until 8:00pm that night. Take a break for the night and get some sleep. We’ll open back up at 9:00am on Sunday and finish before supper. You will work in pairs over the weekend to draw and present a storyboard – a six-panel board that tells us what your idea is, which problems it will solve, and who it will help.

 

Sounds like fun! What about the “Arts-Tech” part?

The unique part about this Hackathon is that we will be pairing computer science (CS) students with non-CS students for the weekend to build a project that combines arts with technology in some way. Your idea can be anything you want it to be as long as the art and technology components are both essential to the project. We want to simulate the real world by having CS students communicate their technological abilities with other people and to have non-CS students embrace technology within their respective fields.

What is the prize we’re competing for?

The winning team will be given automatic invitations to Nova Scotia Sandboxes’ Creativity and Innovation Bootcamp. The Bootcamp teaches design thinking at Acadia University over a two-week period, taking place in early May. All accommodations are included (food, lodging, etc.) and all students who attend receive a payment of $1000 for their participation. The winners of the Hackathon will skip the application process and automatically have their spots reserved!

On top of the Bootcamp, both the winning team and the runners-up will receive one hour of mentoring with a guest speaker of their choosing if they wish to further develop their idea from the Hackathon.

What will we be judged on?

We know that it can be hard to compare different artforms to each other. We’ve created a judging rubric that is agnostic to your background and the kind of the kind of project you create. Here are the qualities we will be looking at with respect to your storyboard presentations:

  • Does your idea have a clear audience?
  • Does your idea solve a real problem?
  • Is your idea original and clearly different from its competitors?
  • Is it possible to create your idea?
  • Are the arts and technology components of your idea both essential?

What’s the presentation format?

Unlike a traditional hackathon, teams will not be preparing slide decks and pitching to judges. Instead, we’re trying something different.

Teams will be expected to host a table and display their storyboard for everyone to see—similar to an academic “poster conference”. Judges and other guests will circulate around the room and when they approach your table, your team will deliver a 2-3 minute presentation of your board.

This format provides you with many opportunities to refine your presentation during the “conference” period. Please refer to the schedule for specific times.

Help will be available throughout the hackathon to obtain advice and support on the creation and effective presentation of your storyboard throughout this hackathon.

Who are the guest speakers?

We will have several different guest speakers giving 20-minute talks throughout the weekend. Each guest has had a career that combines technology with an artform in some way. This is a great opportunity for anybody (whether you win or lose at the Hackathon) to gain valuable information about career paths you may not have considered. We encourage everybody who attends the Hackathon to take as much advantage of our speakers as possible!

Saturday

Terra Tailleur (Journalism Enabler)

I draw on my knowledge and extensive experience as a multi-platform reporter, editor, writer and producer to teach people what they need to excel in an ever-changing digital news environment.

Specialties: Breaking news, news writing, headline writing, newsroom integration, digital platforms, audience engagement, social media integration

Chris Noxx (Entrepreneur, Record Producer/Publisher)

Recognized with countless awards & nominations in the US, Canada & the UK for his creative works, his resume includes 5 international Billboard Charting hits, (a collective charting on the US, CAN & UK Billboards over 25 times) working closely with some of the most influential players in Hip Hop & Urban Music, and producer & co writer for an onslaught of Multi Platinum & Grammy Award Winning Artists, TV shows, Films, Multi Media platforms, Advertising Campaigns, & Fortune 500 companies.

AJ Morales (Creative Director, Ubisoft)

– Game Director / Designer with 11+ years industry experience and 17 shipped titles
– Champion of project vision, managing creative teams of 25+ members
– Experienced writer and storyteller in multiple mediums and formats
– Demonstrated proficiency with IP development, brand collaboration, and external editorial
– Successful leadership of iterative prototyping, systems and level design in 10+ projects

Sunday

Mark Bin D. Santos (Graphic Designer – Discovery Centre)

With a high passion in graphic designing, video animations and photography.
• Graphic Designer and Photographer of The Discovery Centre, Halifax, Nova Scotia.
• Worked as a freelance graphic designer and photographer for years.
• Worked as a Digital Artist at Universidad de Zamboanga, University Communications Office.
• Member of several publication organizations.

An Athlete with great interest in health, wellness and fitness.
• Member of several groups, community, organizations related to fitness.

Nick Rijgersberg (Director and Storyboard Artist)

I’ve worked in 2D traditional, 2D digital and 3D animation since graduation from Sheridan Colleges’ Classical animation program in 1984. In 2011 I graduate from Herzing collèges’ Maya 3D program.

What if I don’t have a partner?

On the registration form, we will give you a chance to indicate if you don’t have a partner to work with. We will do our absolute best to make sure you’re partnered up with someone for the weekend!

Is there a fee for the weekend?

Nope! The Arts-Tech Fusion Hackathon is 100% free!

Schedule

Sat, Mar 23
Time Description
9:00 am Registration/attendance at the door, coffee, morning pastries
9:30 am Hackathon kickoff, announcements
9:45 am How to Create a Storyboard workshop with Alex Sproul
12:30 pm Catered lunch and Guest Speaker: Terra Tailleur
4:00 pm Guest Speaker: Chris Noxx
6:00 pm Check-in with pairs. Groups will get feedback on their idea
7:00 pm Guest Speaker: AJ Morales
8:00 pm Day 1 Closing. Teams are welcome to continue hacking
Sun, Mar 24
Time Description
9:00 am Attendance at the door
9:30 am Day 2 Kickoff. Reminder of the schedule and presentation format
12:30 pm Catered lunch and Guest Speaker: Mark Santos
3:00 pm Prep for hosting table to present storyboards in a “poster conference” format. Deadline to submit online team profile forms
4:00 pm Host table. Judges will circulate. Prepare 2-3 minute presentation of storyboard
5:00 pm Judge scoring/deliberation. Guest Speaker: Nick Rijgersberg
5:30 pm Winner announcements and photos, closing remarks, group photo

I’m in! How do I register?

Please complete the following online form to register for this event. This event is closed to current full/part-time post-secondary students only to best align with the prize structure.

REGISTER

Play is an Essential Part of Failure: Here’s Why That’s a Good Thing

If you’ve ever been around children while they’re playing tag, you’ve probably had to make a difficult interpretation. Are they screaming because they’re having fun? Or are they screaming because they’re terrified and need help? Without context, it can be really difficult to tell the difference. Play is frequently reminiscent of behaviours that are dangerous or just plain boring. Have you ever seen a toddler playing with dolls? It boils down to changing the doll’s clothes or pretending to go to work – things that, in reality, are just uneventful rituals of our daily lives. As adults, the behaviours we pretended to do when we played as kids become the norm. Picking out a shirt in the morning isn’t the fun process that it was with the dolls because we do it every day.

Play, at its core, is one of the most difficult-to-interpret behaviours that a living creature can exhibit. If you’ve ever witnessed two dogs playing, it can look vicious. They snarl, bite, and the noises they make can even be scary if you don’t know them well. In fact, modern psychology views play as a learning tool for practicing behaviours that won’t be necessary until later. Tag looks so much like running from a predator because that’s exactly what it is emulating. Play is the reason we don’t have to teach ourselves how to run and scream when a predator really does come our way.

If you can subscribe to this interpretation of play, then it shouldn’t be a huge leap to see how play helps us even in our adult lives. But, at some point, playing tag and dress-up became a thing that kids do and we don’t. Is there really any reason for that? The desire to play is still there. Video games and organized sports are still fun for adults, after all.

So where did the toys and the children’s games go? Why did they stop becoming as much fun as they used to be? One way to interpret it is this: we stop playing tag because we’ve already learned to run as fast as we can. We stop playing dress-up because we know what kind of clothes we like to put on in the morning. Now that we’ve got the basics down, play takes a different form of modeling the other behaviours we still need to practice. For programmers, this might be fooling around with a new programming language. For artists, it could be drawing exaggerated, ridiculous creatures that never make it to the final draft. This is the most important part of play: it gives us a circumstance in which failure is okay. In fact, it’s even encouraged.

There are several reasons why the majority of start-ups fail. Here at ShiftKey Labs, we completely embody the philosophy that failure should be an integral part of developing any business idea. However, if failure is going to happen, it should be early enough in the development of your idea that the consequences aren’t severe. And how do we ensure that failure happens early? We play, of course!

This isn’t to say that students at ShiftKey Labs are running around playing tag (although, under the right circumstances, they could be). Instead, play could involve making a cardboard cut-out of a fake phone with paper screens to simulate how an app might work. It could be roleplaying a phone call to a new pizza delivery service. If it seems silly, it should. If we are simulating an environment where failure is an encouraged option, then that environment should positive, fun, and contain at least a little laughter. Play makes it hilarious when you realize that you forgot to add a button to bring your user back to the main menu. And, more importantly, play makes it easy to modify your idea when it does fail. It is so much easier to add a paper screen to your cardboard phone than to program a button into your app.

Encouragement to fail even extends beyond modifying just one idea. Part of the design process involves generating as many ideas as possible. Some of those ideas might not be practical, plausible, or even possible. Maybe that edible pizza box just isn’t sanitary. But ridiculous ideas can be a great place to start. After all, a blank page can be so much more intimidating than one full of scribbles. Students who come into the lab almost never end with the idea they started with. Sometimes, ideas have to be scrapped. Sometimes, a great idea has already been done. It happens to the best of us. But it’s how we move on in the face of failure that matters so much more. Having a drawing board with more ideas ready to try out means that failure is taking a few steps back instead starting at the beginning. And if we’re going to fail, we should probably do it with a smile on our face.

So prepare for failure. Embrace it. Have fun with it. ShiftKey Labs is one of the Nova Scotia Sandboxes for exactly that reason. Build a sand castle. Laugh when the tide washes it way. Reshape it. Rebuild it. Build a moat to protect it from the water. We believe that if you can play with failure, you’ll have built your sand empire by the end of the day.

Focusing on the human-centred side of problem solving

Workshop #2 of the Sandbox Discover program will focus on human-centred imperative of the design thinking process.

We will unpack what empathy means, how it relates to design thinking, why it is an essential part of the process, and run a fun exercises to help you experience how to gain empathy for users that will set you on the right path to build the right solution to a given problem.

Come hungry as we will be ordering pizza and drinks as a special treat for tonight’s session!

About the Sandbox Discover Program

The Sandbox Discover program is a free, extra-curricular program open to all students in any post-secondary degree/diploma program who want to learn more about innovation at its earliest stages. This is the messy and fun stage, where ideas emerge and are discarded at a rapid pace and failure is celebrated because it means insight was gained.
The skills and insights gained through the program are transferrable across disciplines and will allow you to bring an innovation mindset to everything from academic group projects, current and future workplaces or potential startups!

Registration

For more information about the Sandbox Discover program, and to register, please visit https://shiftkeylabs.ca/sandbox-discover-program/.

 

ShiftKey Labs Info Session

Whether you’ve never heard of ShiftKey Labs or you’ve been engaged since we opened our doors in June 2014, you won’t want to miss this info session.

We’ve been working hard behind the scenes to develop some exciting new programs that introduce you to the innovation mindset, design thinking, creative problem solving, and critical thinking—skills in high-demand for career growth as an employee or startup founder.

Join us for this session to learn how you can best leverage the wealth of resources and supports available to you through ShiftKey Labs as you explore the exciting world of innovation!

Registration

This information session is open to everyone—students, recent alumni, and community members alike. Please submit the form below to reserve your seat.

REGISTER

Prototyping and Experimentation

Workshop #6 of the Sandbox Discover program will focus on “Prototyping and Experimentation”. We’ll continue with the prototyping stage of design thinking and move on to the final stage of the process – the testing stage.

This week we will concentrate on refining prototypes with the learning we gained last week and also spend some time experimenting/testing the prototype with users. The goal is not to defend your prototype but to observe how your user(s) interact with it. Based on this new learning, you might be required to return to one of the previous stages of the process to gain more empathy, redefine, ideate, or prototype again!

About the Sandbox Discover Program

The Sandbox Discover program is a free, extra-curricular program open to all students in any post-secondary degree/diploma program who want to learn more about innovation at its earliest stages. This is the messy and fun stage, where ideas emerge and are discarded at a rapid pace and failure is celebrated because it means insight was gained.
The skills and insights gained through the program are transferrable across disciplines and will allow you to bring an innovation mindset to everything from academic group projects, current and future workplaces or potential startups!

Getting ideas out of your head – the power of the storyboard

Celebrate Halloween with the Sandbox Discover program! Workshop #5 will focus on “Getting ideas out of your head – the power of the storyboard” or more precisely—the prototyping stage of the design thinking process.

The Prototype stage aims to see your ideas evolve rapidly through the use of a specific prototyping tool: storyboards. Storyboards are quick, easy and cheap to produce. They can be thought of as the earliest physical manifestation of your idea. The goal is to maximize learning early in the process to avoid costly and time-consuming mistakes later on.

About the Sandbox Discover Program

The Sandbox Discover program is a free, extra-curricular program open to all students in any post-secondary degree/diploma program who want to learn more about innovation at its earliest stages. This is the messy and fun stage, where ideas emerge and are discarded at a rapid pace and failure is celebrated because it means insight was gained.
The skills and insights gained through the program are transferrable across disciplines and will allow you to bring an innovation mindset to everything from academic group projects, current and future workplaces or potential startups!

 

Generating ideas – the power of brainstorming

Workshop #4 of the Sandbox Discover program will focus on “Generating ideas – the power of brainstorming” or more precisely—the Ideate stage of the design thinking process.

Building on both the Empathize and Define stages, the Ideate stage encourages us to generate as many solutions / ideas as possible through focused and creative brainstorming. We naturally want to evaluate and defend each idea as they emerge but design thinking  challenges us to fight that urge. Encouraging wild ideas, deferring judgement, visualizing ideas, building on the ideas of others and going for tremendous quantity are just some of the tactics we’ll practice this week.

About the Sandbox Discover Program

The Sandbox Discover program is a free, extra-curricular program open to all students in any post-secondary degree/diploma program who want to learn more about innovation at its earliest stages. This is the messy and fun stage, where ideas emerge and are discarded at a rapid pace and failure is celebrated because it means insight was gained.
The skills and insights gained through the program are transferrable across disciplines and will allow you to bring an innovation mindset to everything from academic group projects, current and future workplaces or potential startups!

 

Focusing on the human-centred side of problem solving

In workshop #3 of the Sandbox Discover program, we will continue focusing on the human-centred side of problem solving.

This week we will look at the “Define” stage of the design thinking process. We will look specifically at how to frame problem solving or brainstorming activities in a human-centred way. How do we draw on the learning gained in the Empathize stage to set ourselves up for innovative problem solving. Are we keeping people at the centre of the issue? What needs are being addressed? What insights can we leverage?

About the Sandbox Discover Program

The Sandbox Discover program is a free, extra-curricular program open to all students in any post-secondary degree/diploma program who want to learn more about innovation at its earliest stages. This is the messy and fun stage, where ideas emerge and are discarded at a rapid pace and failure is celebrated because it means insight was gained.
The skills and insights gained through the program are transferrable across disciplines and will allow you to bring an innovation mindset to everything from academic group projects, current and future workplaces or potential startups!

 

Falling in love with the problem

Workshop #2 of the Sandbox Discover program will focus on “Falling in Love with the Problem” (i.e. not the solution) or more precisely—the Empathize stage of the design thinking process.

We will unpack what empathy means, how it relates to design thinking, why it is an essential part of the process, and run a fun exercise to help you experience how to gain empathy for users that will set you on the right path to build the right solution to a given problem.

Come hungry as we will be ordering pizza and drinks as a special treat for tonight’s session!

About the Sandbox Discover Program

The Sandbox Discover program is a free, extra-curricular program open to all students in any post-secondary degree/diploma program who want to learn more about innovation at its earliest stages. This is the messy and fun stage, where ideas emerge and are discarded at a rapid pace and failure is celebrated because it means insight was gained.
The skills and insights gained through the program are transferrable across disciplines and will allow you to bring an innovation mindset to everything from academic group projects, current and future workplaces or potential startups!