Science Hack Day Houston 2016 Recap

Science Hack Day Houston 2016 was held at the Houston Museum of Natural Science on April 2nd and 3rd. Designers, programmers, college, and high school students stayed over-night to race the clock and build an idea from scratch in 24 hrs.

Attendees arrived early Saturday morning to find a team. By noon, teams of 2 – 7 people consisting of teachers, high school, undergrad, grad students, engineers, developers, designers, and marketeers had formed and had already started their hacks.

All sorts of ideas were proposed that afternoon: a weather-prediction-sprinkler to save water on rainy days, a completely anonymous and encrypted text messaging app, a mobile app to promote safe driving, a smart kite, a hack-idea generating app, killer robots, a .pdf indexer, and many more. Some ideas morphed into something completely different by that evening. Each team member brought their knowledge and skills to the table to shape the end result of their projects.

Prizes were raffled throughout the event – from arduinos to quad-copters and science kits. And meals and snacks were available at all times to keep the hackers focused and energized.

By midnight, some of us had stayed for the optional sleepover at the museum and worked while watching sci-fi movies on a projector and screen. Just a few stayed up all night to continue to work on their project. The participants who left the previous night arrived early in the morning the next day and continued to work on their prototype. They had until 1:37 PM to finish their hacks and submit a presentation.

The final projects were:

  • Hack-n-Da Box, a web application in which a group of people can input their skills and get a list of ideas on prototypes to build based on their combined skill-sets. Check out their GitHub and presentation.
  • Curie Protein Viewer (Data Award) is an application which extracts protein ID’s from PDF papers, indexes the IDs, and creates a visualization of the protein which you can interact with. Check out a video, their GitHub, and presentation.
  • Virtual Night at the Museum (Design Award), a virtual reality project where you can tour the Houston Museum of Natural Science with your phone and a virtual reality headset. Check out their presentation.
  • exkite (Best in Show Award) is a kite that can track temperature, altitude, location, and velocity in real time. It has a goPro and color changing LED lights based on feedback from weather or the web application. Check out their videoGitHub, web app, and presentation.
  • Cassie (People’s Choice and Hardware Award) is a robot that can be controlled by anyone via Twitch (a live streaming website). Check out their GitHubpresentation, and Twitch.

Science Hack Day is a “hackathon” with a twist – everyone is encouraged to share their thoughts, find a team, learn something new, have fun and play with science. The idea was to mash up ideas, mediums, industries and people to spark inspiration for future collaborations. Awards and recognition were given to the winners and engraved science medals were given to all participants.

Science Hack Day Houston 2016 was a HUGE success thanks to our participants, organizers, volunteers, and sponsors. Our partners at CSGirls and the Houston Museum of Natural Science and our sponsors Digital Schematics, The University of Houston Computer Science Department, The Iron Yard, Luigi’s Pizzeria Midtown and Trader Joe’s made everything possible.

We can’t wait to see you next year. Until then, hack-on!