That time we hacked the TU
This was a big year for the Science Hack Day Berlin team. We put out a call for new volunteers at the beginning of the year and grew to a grand 11 members – sharing leadership and bringing in a lot of new ideas and fresh energy. It was an challenging transition to build new internal structures and practices, but we learned a lot and are fully convinced that this is a great way forward for our project.
The big team brought us the capacity to work on a few things we’ve been wanting to implement for a while. We now have clearly-defined statement of our values and mission up on our website, as well as a beautiful code of conduct. We also moved to a new venue, thanks to support from the TU Berlin. In some ways it was a little less infrastructure than we’d been used to at FabLab or Betahaus, but with so much space we could really stretch ourselves out and try new things.
We moved documentation of the hacks to our new corner of the OpenTechSchool Discourse forum, so that the teams can independently continue to document further developments, get feedback from the community and connect with potential collaborators. Our plan is to use this platform also to document ongoing projects in our regular monthly meetups (science hacking is for life, not just for Science Hack Day!). We’re looking forward to seeing where this will take our community.
This year’s hack collection included DIY scientific equipment that would make a great addition to any kitchen molecular biology lab, and an ambitious attempt to build a new experimental flight propulsion system, showing that you don’t need to have access to formal research facilities to do pretty sophisticated science. Several projects showed what happens when scientific phenomena or approaches are applied in new contexts, including a sound-controlled stroboscope that makes live analog visuals to music using the phenomenon of persistence of vision and a data analysis project to survey the most significant human experiences. And some teams used their outsider perspective to criticise or even improve science: a satirical medical algorithm for self-diagnosis that tries to sell you things and a chatbot for lab journaling to improve life in the lab.
All of our exploits, the hacks, the teams, the lightning speakers, the judges, are documented online at our website.