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All aboard! An educational spaceship docks Downtown for local youth

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Arts and spacecrafts: The Youth Educational Spacecraft is stationed in Downtown Las Vegas until December 8.

Saturday night in Downtown Vegas isn’t where you’d expect to find kids playing with robots and learning about art or outer space. Yet there they were, playing with fog machines and interactive videos inside a colorfully lit spaceship inside the Learning Village on Fremont East.

A collaboration between Burning Man Project and Downtown Project, the Youth Educational Spacecraft landed in Las Vegas November 15. Y.E.S. is docked Downtown until December 8, when it will take off for another city, and throughout its stay, kids can tour the vessel (loaded with soundscapes, videos and an LED light installation) and participate in artist-led workshops.

San Francisco-based artist Dana Albany worked with kids from low-income Bay Area neighborhoods to create the mosaics that cover the ship.

“I wanted to lead them through the whole process and give them understanding of how you build something in life,” Albany says. “How you make something larger, and how you do it collectively and creatively.”

Albany’s partner, Michael Hopkins (who goes by “Flash”), is a Burning Man icon and artist who previously starred on Discovery Channel’s Doing DaVinci. At the Y.E.S. project, he’s the crew’s animated steam-punk space captain, guiding kids through the extra-terrestrial machine. Outside the craft, they can interact with a number of human-controlled metal robots by artist Kal Spelletich, including a drawing machine, a voice-operated sculpture and a remote-controlled walking device.

Normally, that robot has an attached barbecue and delivers hot dogs, Spelletich says, but for this installation (safety first!), the grill was removed.

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Leslie Ventura is a staff writer at Las Vegas Weekly and Industry Weekly. She’s picked the brains of rock stars ...

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