DC Science Hack Day

May 16-17, 2015

Washington, D.C.


48 hour hack-make-do-a-thon with science!


Science Hack Days have occurred over 50 times in 17 different countries but never in Washington, D.C. The Wilson Center and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts are proud to host the first! We believe this city is ripe for blending civic hackers, artists, designers and scientists that are collectively working toward the public good.

Science Hack Day is a 48-hour-all-night event where anyone excited about making weird, silly or serious things with science comes together in the same physical space to see what they can prototype over a weekend.

Designers, developers, scientists and anyone who is excited about making things with science are welcome to attend – no experience in science or hacking is necessary, just an insatiable curiosity.

Lightning Talks

Lightning Talks are 5 minute presentations on a challenge, dataset, idea or tool that will kick off Science Hack Day to get the juices flowing.

If you would like to propose something in addition to these to start the brainstorming process, please follow the link below to the SHD wiki.

Share ideas and edit the Science Hack Day Wiki here

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Anne Neale, EnviroAtlas Project Lead

EnviroAtlas is an online resource containing hundreds of geospatial data layers which are all published as web services to make them readily available to external application builders.

John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

Allen Brooks, Interactive Content Producer

Forty years ago, we sent a probe into the void. The Voyager satellites have been traveling through and past our solar system carrying two golden records which contain a cultural snapshot of the world in 1977. How do we send a new cultural picture into the stars, do we need a satellite? Do we use some sort of signal? What culture is represented, and how do we curate?

Greg Poljacik, Stuntman-Scientist

Placing sensors on performers to see if and how their emotions are picked up by others (Emotional Contagion). Lets see if we can use science to prove this.

Doug Cooney, Playwright, Author, Professor

Making Modern Monsters – Connecting Frankenstein’s monsters to contemporary science and arts learning. What is an authentic way to teach about Artificial Intelligence and the possibilities and dangers therein, to a high school audience? What is a legitimate science experiment about galvanism that can be reproduced inexpensively and consistently?

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

David Lagomasino, Biospheric Sciences Lab

Forest Monitoring and detecting on the ground land-use change. Design a platform to capture citizen science data on land-use.

Environmental Law Institute

Talia Fox, Research Associate

Methane hunting, how can we use sensors and citizens to track down rogue methane gas?

The U.S. State Department, Secretary's Office of Global Partnerships

Thomas Debass, Deputy Special Representative

Coding for Fish - With 50% of the fish caught for human consumption coming from small-scale and artisanal fisheries around the world, the livelihoods of these fishers are crucial for their communities. To address these fishery management challenges, we need to find innovative ways to collect data and use it to find solutions—through the second annual Fishackathon, happening June 5-7.

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Elizabeth Tuck, Genetics and Education Fellow

DIYbio hacking, what is it? What can you do with it? And where is the data?

James Tyrwhitt-Drake, Graphics Design & Visualization Expert

NIH 3D Print Exchange - Discover, create, share, engage and learn

US Geological Survey (USGS)

Sophia Liu, Mendenhall Postdoc Fellow

Visualizing the hydraulic fracturing lifecycle, lifecycle of critical materials and toxic contamination after hurricane Sandy

Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

Abdulkader Sinno, Wilson Center Fellow

UAV Forest Canopy Research - Earth scientists need to be able to collect samples of leaves from the top of trees in the forests to accurately monitor and understand how forests purify our air. Can we develop a cost-effective and efficient method to help them do so?

Inter-American Development Bank

Alyson Williams, Knowledge and Learning Specialist

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) recently launched its Open Data Portal called“Numbers for Development” which allows you to explore, visualize and reuse the Bank’s data on social and economic development in Latin America and the Caribbean. “Numbers for Development” compiles over 1700 multi-sectorial indicators from 26 countries in the region into one single place. This data has been collected by the Bank for over 50 years. The new portal includes data on many different topics, including macroeconomics, social inclusion and global integration. In addition, there are over 30 IDB specialized datasets and open visualizations available to view and download.


Saturday May 16th:

9:00 AM Check-in & Breakfast (6th Floor)

10:00 AM Welcome & Housekeeping

10:15 AM Opening Remarks

10:30 AM Lightning Talks

11:30 AM Break, Ask Questions, Form Teams

12:00 PM Lunch

1:00 PM Hack!

6:00 PM Project Progress Report Out (6th Floor Auditorium)

7:00 PM Dinner

8:00 PM Trivia with Prizes! (6th Dining Room)

10:00 PM Optional Movie (6th Floor Auditorium)

10:00 PM Lock Out/In: You may leave but you can't get back in

Overnight: Hack Away!

Sunday May 17th:

9:00 AM Doors Open & Breakfast

9:30 AM Progress Updates (6th Floor Auditorium)

10:00 AM Hack!

12:00 PM Lunch (6th Floor Dining Room)

1:30 PM Upload Presentations for Demos

2:00 PM Final Demos! Hacks Judged by a DC Tech Celebrity Panel and SHD Community

3:30 PM Awards Ceremony & Closing Remarks

4:00 PM End


The Wilson Center

Ronald Reagan Building

1300 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest

Washington, D.C. 20004

Data Sources & Inspiration

Participants are encouraged to bring their own hacking materials, especially their own laptop. Your imagination is the limit for what to bring (play dough, string, circuit boards, microscopes) but it must be small enough to fit through the scanner. Please remember this is a federal building owned by the General Services Administration, think carefully about what you'll bring! We will be providing everyone with a detailed list of makerspaces in the area and hardware stores should they wish to purchase more supplies. We will have some tinkering supplies as well.



Programming Tools & Frameworks



Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge



A photo I.D. is required for entry. You will be screened as this is a federal building.

By Metro: Take the blue, orange or silver line to "Federal Triangle" station. At the top of the escalator at street level, cross Woodrow Wilson Plaza (just past the giant bronze turkey leg-exclamation point-beaver tail) The entrance is in the center of the Ronald Reagan Building.

From Pennsylvania Avenue at 13th Street: Walk down Woodrow Wilson Plaza, the north-south extension of 13th Street beside the Ronald Reagan Building. Enter the Reagan Building through the entrance in the middle of the plaza.

From 14th Street: Go through the Ronald Reagan Building along the right (south) side of the atrium and continue past it. At the hall's end, turn left and enter the Woodrow Wilson Memorial. At its far end, turn right into the Center's lobby.

Parking: Underground public parking is available underneath the Reagan Building at Pennsylvania Avenue and 13 1/2 Street. Take the elevator up to the ground floor and follow signs to the Woodrow Wilson Center. Because the Reagan Building is a federal building, all vehicle occupants must have photo identification and the vehicle will be subject to a 100% inspection.You can map the trip at: http://www.wmata.com


Attendees 21+ are invited to sleepover Saturday (although the hope is to hack through the night!). The Wilson Center floor is not soft, so you will definitely want a pad to put beneath your sleeping bag. And please, no tents.


Children are welcome to attend, but they must be accompanied by a guardian at all times. This event is designed for all ages!


A film crew will be documenting the event for educational and promotional use. You will be asked to sign a waiver during check-in.


Github membership (individual or organizational account)


All hackers will recieve a free copy of Endnote more details on how to recieve your copy will be shared at the event

During Trivia Night we will be giving out donated Cards Against Humanity packs!


Pre-registration is required in order to attend this event!

Comments or questions? Email us at commonslab@wilsoncenter.org

Social Media

Contact Us

Disclaimer: Reference to any specific non-profit or commercial entity, its products, or services by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not constitute or imply its endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by the United States Government. The views and opinions of any post on this website does not state or reflect those of the United States Government, and shall not be used for advertising or product-endorsement purposes.

Intellectual Property Rights: The intellectual property rights of hacks produced at this event belong to the attendees, and not to the organizers, sponsors, or partners.

Participation is fully voluntary and participants are not entitled to compensation, nor will they be considered employees of the United States. Government employees should be aware that this event is not related in any manner to their official duties. Employees of the U.S. or D.C. Government who participate will engage in the event in their personal capacity (i.e. identifying themselves by their own names without referencing their Federal employment) on a voluntary basis outside their working hours, and will not be entitled to to compensation for their time. Furthermore, any Federal employee participating in their personal capacity should contact their Ethics Official to ensure they are in compliance with all ethics laws and regulations. Federal contractor employees should refer all questions regarding their participation to the corresponding contracting officer.

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