Science Hack Day

Science Hack Day brings together designers, developers, scientists, and other geeks in the same physical space for a brief but intense period of collaboration, hacking and building cool stuff.

The mission of Science Hack Day is to get excited and make things with science! A Hack Day is a 48-hour-all-night event that brings together designers, developers, scientists, citizen scientists, web geeks and anyone with good ideas in the same physical space for a brief but intense period of collaboration, hacking, and building ‘cool stuff’. Hack Days were originally created by Yahoo! in 2005 and soon after became a worldwide trend. By collaborating on focused tasks during this short period, small groups of hackers are capable of producing remarkable results. Some Hack Days have a specific focus. There have already been very successful Music Hack Days and Government Hack Days. It's time for a Hack Day focused on science!

Science Hack Day Ambassador Program

Meet our global Science Hack Day Ambassadors! In 2011 and 2013 we were able to fund a select group soon-to-be Science Hack Day organizers to experience the event first-hand in San Francisco in order to take it back to their home city. This was made possible by grants from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

2013 Ambassadors

Six people from around the world who were interested in organizing a Science Hack Day in their own city were welcomed to Science Hack Day San Francisco in 2013. This was made possible thanks to a grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

Ankit Daftery
Mumbai, India
Ankit Daftery likes creating things that make work easy, people happy and life easy. He enjoys tinkering with code and hardware. Ankit loves meeting up people over coffee and trying to see the world their way. Contact @ankitdaf.

Bassam Jalgha
Beirut, Lebanon
Bassam is a hardware developer, tinkerer and musician, he is a founding member of Lamba Labs, Beirut's first hackerspace. Bassam used to teach mechatronics at the American University of Beirut but he just quit his job and went all the way to China in order to develop a hardware startup. He has interest in anything that moves, mainly robotics, and audio and he tries to fuse the two topics in everything he builds. Contact @bassamjalgha.

Eddie Kim
Guelph, Canada
Eddie is an undergrad at the University of Guelph studying Nanoscience and Physics, and will soon be hosting Canada's first Science Hack Day in Guelph this fall (2013). His scientific interests include x-ray spectroscopy, nanomaterials fabrication, and energy conversion/storage. His hobbies include web development, martial arts, and science outreach. Contact @eddotman.

Naureen Nayyar
Yangon, Myanmar
Naureen (Nora) Nayyar is a writer, futurist, and media consultant based in San Francisco/Bangkok. Things she's working on and done in the past are: creator of a tech community map/reference book (kickstarter late 2013), social media and science blog management for a NYC health startup, co-founder of social good site Dutiee, researcher on public health and sanitation in Madagascar, and campaign work for a Singapore sanitation-focused NGO. Her goal is to promote more independent scientists, visionaries and tech projects outside the Bay Area. Contact @norabean.

Murilo Polese
Vitória, Brazil
Murilo Polese is an ex-physics student, relapsed rugbier, clumsy capoeira player and memoryless musician. He is a Linux user and creative commons enthusiast. Murilo's essentials are communication, interaction and random behaviors. Contact @burrilo.

Harinjaka Andriankoto Ratozamanana
Antananarivo, Madagascar
Harinjaka Andriankoto Ratozamanana is a New Media Strategist, web Entrepreneur and Pioneer in New Media in Madagascar. People know him best as one of the TED Fellows, Co-founder and CEO at Habaka Madagascar Innovation Hub and member of Afrilabs. Harinjaka is an Afro-optimist who believes that Africa can solve many of its problems with science and technology. Contact @harinjaka.


2011 Ambassadors

Ten people from around the world who were interested in organizing a Science Hack Day were welcomed to Science Hack Day San Francisco in 2011. This was made possible thanks to a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Amber Didow
Vancouver, Canada
Amber Didow oversees a design team that develops exhibitions for the Science Centre in Vancouver, Canada. She has been working in informal arts and science education organizations for many years in the areas of programming, outreach, events and exhibit development. When Amber's not working she's making and when she's not making you'll find her working on her Masters in Community Development. Contact adidow@scienceworld.ca.

Satoka Fujita
Tokyo, Japan
Satoka Fujita is a techie who loves her camera, computers, android phone and lovely boy friend. Always looking for something new and fun, also the first generation of Tokyo Hackerspace. She speaks Japanese, English and a bit of C, none of them fluent any more though. Contact @lhuga.

Fabius Leineweber
São Paulo, Brazil
Fabius Leineweber is a chemical engineer trying to understand biological complexity through computers. He also collaborates in digital art projects and philosophy of mind studies. His goal is to improve health awareness with science and technology. Contact usfabi@gmail.com.

Stuart Lynn
Chicago, USA
Stuart Lynn started off life studying Mathematical physics at Edinburgh University before deciding astronomy was prettier and easier to explain in bars and obtained a PHD in astrophysics. He currently works out of the Adler Planetarium as a developer on the Zooniverse project and is passionate about getting the everyone involved in doing real science. When not working he enjoys hacking on anything thats to hand and working on fun side projects. Contact @stuart_lynn or stuart.lynn@gmail.com.

David McKeown
Dublin, Ireland
David McKeown is a maker of things. Doctor of stuff. He runs the Irish Robotics Club and is partial to sugary sweets. Contact @dj_mckeown or science-hackday-dublin@googlegroups.com.

Morris Mwanga
Nairobi, Kenya
Morris Mwanga is a CS graduate student at Kennesaw State University, a programmer, an artificial intelligence researcher and an electronics hacker. His blog can be found at nerd.co.ke/morris. Contact mmwanga@kennesaw.edu.

Carolina Ödman
Cape Town, South Africa
Carolina Ödman is a European astrophysicist turned scientist for development (@unawe) aspiring hacker and loves outreach. Now in South Africa for good, she is the director of academic development at the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences - Next Einstein Initiative (AIMS_NEI). She is also a compulsive amateur photographer and loves the power of science to broaden the mind. Contact @carolune or scihackcpt@gmail.com.

Jack Remond
Mexico City, Mexico
Jack Remond is a grumpy manager by day and part-time entrepreneur by night. Jack is an electronic engineering and rocket scientist trying to control chaos (so far... chaos is winning). He is co-founder of Estudio13 and Bellusorbis. He twitts (rarely) about #openspace #innovation and #grumpyness. Contact @jjremond or jjremond@hotmail.com.

Igor Schwarzmann
Berlin, Germany
Igor Schwarzmann is an urbanized knowmad since 1983. He wants to know everything about everything. Also: co-founder of Third Wave and the Cognitive Cities Conference. Contact @zeigor or schwarzmann@gmail.com.

Brian Suda
Reykjavík, Iceland
Brian Suda is an informatician residing in Reykjavik, Iceland. He's written a book on the topic of charts and graphs entitled Designing with Data. His own little patch of Internet can be found at suda.co.uk where many past projects and crazy ideas can be found. Contact @briansuda or brian@suda.co.uk.





Science Hack Day

Science Hack Day brings together designers, developers, scientists, and other geeks in the same physical space for a brief but intense period of collaboration, hacking and building cool stuff.

Organize Your Own

Featured Hacks

People organically form multidisciplinary teams over the course of a weekend: partical physicists team up with designers, marketers join forces with open source rocket scientists, writers collaborate with molecular biologists, etc. Here's just a few of the things that have been created:

  • Photo by Matt Biddulph

    Syneseizure

    Wouldn't it be cool if you could feel sight? That's what one team of sciencehackers sought to explore, creating a mask that simulated synesthesia, a condition where senses get mixed up (e.g. associating colors with numbers or seeing ripples in your vision resulting from loud sounds). The team wanted to simulate a synesthetic sensation by mashing up sight (via a webcam) with touch (via vibrating ...

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  • Photo by Ariel Waldman

    Arm Alarm

    ArmAlarm will wake you up in a completely new way. Studies show that feeling awake is positively correlated with being physically active. Instead of annoying sounds, ArmAlarm is a wearable alarm that wakes you gently with vibrating pulses on your wrist. The alarm begins pulsing at your set time, and stops only when the built-in pulse reader determines that you are awake and active. With ArmAlarm...

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  • Photo by Matt Biddulph

    Isodrag Typeface

    Typefaces often strive for visual consistency in their design, but what if they took their visual cues from the physical world? The Isodrag Typeface is a font designed by aerodynamics. The hack used a makeshift wind tunnel and recorded the aerodynamic drag of each uppercase sans-serif letter. The weight of each letter was altered until all letters were recorded as having equal drag. For example,...

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  • Galaxy Karaoke

    What if you could turn an entire planetarium into a cosmic karaoke machine? That's what a team of science hackers at the Adler Planetarium did over the course of a weekend. Previously, a bunch of awesome Galaxy Zoo forum members collected a complete set of real galaxy images from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, which just happen to look like letters of the alphabet. The Galaxy Karaoke team resurre...

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  • Photo by Matt Biddulph

    ISS Globe

    Can you interact with space travel while you're relaxing at home or busy at work? Astronauts are continuously orbiting the Earth – sometimes you can see a fair glint of their spacecraft, the International Space Station (ISS), overhead on a clear night when they happen to fly past your location. What if you could always see where they were without going outside or opening your laptop? Inspired by...

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  • Quake Canary

    What if our phones could broadcast 'earthquake!' faster than we could tweet it? We are all cyborgs, after all; carrying devices that extend us physically and mentally. Those devices are more than just phones, though, they're also sensors – ubiquitous, cheap, widely distributed sensors that would in many ways be a scientist's wet dream to tap into. The Quake Canary hack put this concept to a spec...

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  • Id vs. Ego

    Imagine playing a video game that changes the difficulty level based on monitoring your brainwaves. A couple of science hackers created such a game using the NeuroSky MindWave portable EEG brainwave headset. This device senses the player's brainwaves and provides an interface to access data from the device. They then used this information to control how the levels of the game itself are generate...

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  • Photo by Matt Biddulph

    DNAquiri

    What does DNA taste like? Aside from the fact that DNA is very small, the materials needed to extract it often aren't edible, or if they are, they're not as delightful as a cocktail. Despite the copious amount of food present at Science Hack Day, a band of biohackers were hungry for more. They sought out to craft a recipe for extracting strawberry DNA that didn't require indigestible ingredients...

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  • Photo by Brad Plummer

    Particle Windchime

    Instead of seeing visualizations of subatomic particle collisions, what if you could hear them? Matt Bellis, a Stanford particle physicist, teamed up with a focused group of hackers and experimented with mapping particle collision data with a variety of sounds. The result was an amusingly awkward symphony of science that you could control via a web interface. While on the surface it was a 'cute'...

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How to organize a Science Hack Day

Science Hack Day brings together designers, developers, scientists, and other geeks in the same physical space for a brief but intense period of collaboration, hacking and building cool stuff.

1. Familiarize yourself with the spirit and guidelines of Hack Days

2. Add your city to the wiki

3. Recruit your co-organizing team

4. Find a venue and set a date

5. Begin planning the event

6. Promote the event and invite awesome people

7. Communicate with registered attendees before the event

8. Send thank you's and get some sleep!



1. Familiarize yourself with the spirit and guidelines of Hack Days

The mission of Science Hack Day is to get excited and make things with science! A Science Hack Day is a 48-hour-all-night event that brings together designers, developers, scientists, citizen scientists, web geeks and anyone with good ideas in the same physical space for a brief but intense period of collaboration, hacking, and building cool stuff. Science Hack Day strives to create events that are filled with people from all different backgrounds - no prior experience in science, hacking or coding is necessary to attend - just an enthusiasm to make things that bring science and technology together! Science Hack Day is not an organization, it's a grassroots global network of volunteers. Science Hack Day is intended to be a completely free event for people to attend. Ideally, the event provides free breakfast and lunch on Saturday and Sunday, and a dinner on Saturday - this allows attendees to be focused on hacking rather than where to find food. Free attendance and free food is achieved through the gracious support of sponsors and ideally a venue that offers their space for free as an in-kind sponsorship.

This video is a great overview of what larger Hack Days are often like:

London Hack Day Video from Tom Coates on Vimeo.

2. Add your city to the wiki

The wiki has an ongoing list of cities that are interested in organizing a Science Hack Day. If your city isn't listed yet, edit the wiki to add your city to the list. On your city's page, please include your contact information and any details/thoughts you have on organizing the event so far. If your city is already listed, add your contact information on the city's page and try to get in touch with the other interested organizers so that you can join forces! If you have any trouble editing the wiki, consult the wiki FAQ.

3. Recruit your co-organizing team

Whether it's people who will actively help you organize the event or just a group of friends who agree to give you feedback along the way, having a trusted circle of people who can help in their spare time leading up to and during the event is key. Once you've recruited your team and read through these 8 steps, organize a kick-off meeting to discuss what you all see as being the scope, logistics and immediate action items for the Science Hack Day. Be sure to cover: the big picture of what you want the event to be, how to get a venue and sponsors, event logistics and budget (food is usually the largest expense), next action items (be sure to assign responsibilities!) and anything else you've got in mind.

4. Find a venue and set a date

Hardly anything can be planned until you lock down a venue. Obtain a venue for free in return for an in-kind, top-tier sponsorship. Offices and coworking spaces that you have a relationship with or have friends working at often are good places to start asking. While you're venue hunting, be sure to pay attention to capacity limits and how the space can be arranged to allow for people to spread out. Other things to keep in mind: ability to spend the night in the venue, overall comfort to spend 48 hours in, proximity to public transportation, how safe the neighborhood is, comfortable seating, power outlets, and if you're going to need to rent wifi to support the number of attendees you're planning on. When you do find a venue, ask about if their internet connectivity can support the number of attendees you plan to have, if security/insurance is necessary (usually venues will just cover this under their own existing plans), agree on what the clean-up plan is, and talk about if you need to sign an agreement. Since any donated venue space is considered a sponsor of Science Hack Day, ask for them to sign a sponsor agreement. Once everything is figured out, agree on a date (ideally a Saturday and Sunday that's ~3-4 months away) and update the wiki with the official date.

5. Begin planning the event

Be organized! You will quickly find out that the event takes quite a bit of organization. It's recommended that you create a private wiki using PBworks to organize information for yourself and any co-organizers. Record things like meeting notes, potential sponsors, potential venues, to-do lists, miscellaneous ideas, logistics, cost estimates, co-organizer responsibilities, event schedule, judging structure, email templates to send to attendees, etc.

Set a date. It's recommended to set a date at least 3 months in advance to allow for planning, acquiring sponsors and promotion.

Estimate all costs. Science Hack Day is a free event to attend and provides 5 free meals, snacks and refreshments for all attendees so that everyone can focus on hacking (lessons from SHD London: less beer, more juice and caffeine; less junk food, more fruit). Providing enough food, snacks and refreshments for everyone at all hours will take up the majority of costs. Science Hack Day SF 2010 hosted ~100 people with the total event cost of $3800 USD; Science Hack Day London hosted ~100 people with the total event cost of $6500 USD. Science Hack Day SF 2011 hosted ~200 people with the total event cost of $11,000 USD. Figure out what the minimum cost of the event is by estimating all the necessities. Also figure out what your "nice to have" budget would be if you're able to obtain enough sponsorship to cover extras like tote bags, stickers, prizes, etc.

Create a website and wiki section. Create your own site or contact ariel@sciencehackday.org about having a Wordpress blog installed for http://sciencehackday.com/yourcity/ and getting access to use the @sciencehackday Twitter account.Start blogging before the event! Update people on the status of planning, create a call for sponsors, point to interesting things that could be used or inspire people for your Science Hack Day.Create a section on http://sciencehackday.pbworks.com for your city - you'll probably want to have pages where people are encouraged to list and sign up for ideas leading up to the event. Once you've set a date for the event, contact ariel@sciencehackday.org to be listed on the front page of http://sciencehackday.com.

Find sponsors. Create a sponsorship prospectus based on your cost estimate (e.g. 3 sponsor levels could be $500, $2000 and $5000, see example sponsorship prospectus). Publicly promote that you're looking for sponsors and actively reach out to various organizations.

Set-up attendee registration method. Decide what your attendee sign-up limit is before you have to add people to a waitlist. It is normal to expect ~25% drop-out rate from the total number of people who sign up, so you might want to set your sign-up limit slightly higher than your venue capacity. Decide when you want to open registration (recommended time: ~6 weeks before the event). We recommend using Eventbrite so you can have an easily organized public list of all the confirmed attendees (and maybe their Twitter accounts) so that they can find each other easily.

Recruit a panel of judges and create competition categories. Create a few competition categories for people to be interested in (examples: best use of data, best design, people's choice award, best hardware hack, etc.)

Schedule and Lightning Talks. Here's an example Science Hack Day schedule. It's recommended that you keep introductory talks to a minimum. In the introductory talk, mention your motivations for organizing and what the general spirit of Science Hack Day is, tell attendees not to worry if they don't find a team within the first couple of hours (much of the event is about eavesdropping and asking people what they're working on), housekeeping (bathroom locations, wifi, spending the night), the event schedule, and thank sponsors. Lightning talks (15 min. talks) should ideally happen in separate rooms so that people can begin hacking as quickly as possible if wan

6. Promote the event and invite awesome people

Once you've found a venue, set a date and opened up registration - start promoting the event! It's also helpful if your website for the event explains what a Science Hack Day is and what the schedule looks like. If you haven't opened up attendee registration yet, ask people to save the date and communicate when you plan to open up registration.

Create a seed list of various local people you know would make the event awesome and would bring much needed diversity to the event. Be sure to spend some dedicated time brainstorming people who are: already familiar with unconferences or hacking culture (they can help those unfamiliar with Hack Days at the event), scientists, hardware hackers, designers, developers and enthusiastic people in general (ask around if you don't know of any people from one of these areas). Among those you brainstorm for your seed list, make sure you're including a large group of women, minorities and people of all ages - Hack Days often trend to be mostly white male software developers in their 20s and 30s. The most efficient way to create an inclusive and diverse event is to take the time to personally send invites interesting and diverse people. Here is an example invite email.

7. Communicate with registered attendees before the event

It's the organizer's responsibility to set the attendees up for success so that they feel comfortable upon arriving at Science Hack Day. Ideally, aim to send 2-3 emails to the attendees before the event. Potential emails can be: confirming their registration, encouraging attendees to add rough hack ideas to the wiki, and sending an everything you need to know email (should be sent out a few days before the event starts). You should also consider if it makes sense to organize an informal pre-Science Hack Day meetup at a public place so that attendees have an opportunity to meet one another before the actual event begins.

8. Send thank you's and get some sleep!

After the event - sleep! You've earned it. When you recover from all the awesomeness, write a blog post summarizing the event/hacks and be sure to send thank you notes to everyone who helped make the event an amazing experience!

Website developed and designed by Stuart Lynn & David Miller