Science Hack Day, Belgaum 2017

Those who have followed reserved-bit this last year and are aware of its roots, would know of Science Hack Day, Belgaum. It is a 2-day event with science at it’s heart. It is a humble and enlightening 2 days, much like its organisers in India. They bring together people – makers, researchers, engineers, designers, teachers, students, architects from India – for science. The first edition was last year(2016) and we returned with the idea of a makerspace wanting to emulate the wonderful 2 days forever. This year we went in to meet friends we made from last year and be part of something truly epic.

Day -1 After the day wrapped up for our co-workers, we packed up most of reserved-bit in suitcases and cardboard boxes to take along. It is a carry-what-you-need and also some more things that might be useful kinda event, extensive collaboration and exchange is key. I wanted to set up a pop-up 3D pen workshop at the venue, therefore there was a suitcase of filaments and Ira’s colouring books. My hack idea was to set up a photo-booth using a raspberry pi and micro:bit. I also wanted to create an LED ring and design the SHD logo but couldn’t even get started on that one. I have preserved that idea for next year now 🙂

Day 0 We picked up Pooja & Praveen and left early morning to reach Sankalp Bhoomi (We couldn’t ask for a better venue) for lunch. After settling down, we watched others kayak, cycle and had our share of fun with the birds and bunnies. Ira was enamoured by kernel_girl and her red hair. Later Ira met her Ovi didi and needed nothing else. Later in the evening all volunteers, organisers and speakers gathered to introduce themselves and their ideas. I missed the Mapbox folks who had done such a fab job with the organic map last year. It was great to reconnect with Minal, Praveen, Hitesh, Rahul and Rupa on the personal front. It was great to meet Shreyas and to see he had returned with a hack idea of his own this time; last year he was a keen kid trying to help me with my Cookie toy hack. What’s more, he also won a prize this year for his hack! Yay!

Day 1 & Day 2 moved so fast; There was so much to do, learn and absorb. The students were divided into 2 groups on day 1 – one for soldering workshop organised by Jithin and other for science toys workshop. The groups were to swap the next day.  We had a video conference with SHD San Francisco which was happening on the same day, it was phenomenal to interact with makers from the other side of the globe.

Once the hack event started on Day 1, I opened my 3D pens and everyone seemed to be fascinated by them. Rakhi, Amol, Medozonuo and the others adeptly took over and since then I didn’t even have a second look at that table. There were a bunch of aspiring educators from Mysore who I had the privilege of interacting with, they were reassuring indicators of our future as a community. The demo session at the end of Day 2 had people turning up in packs to get their names printed using the pen! Medozonuo also made a beautiful witch hat for Ira that we now proudly display at reserved-bit. On day 2, right before the closing ceremony, I quickly tweaked my rainbow pendant based on adafruit’s hoop earrings with the neopixel ring to flash in blue so that it resembled the arc reactor for Hitesh to wear during the closing ceremony. It garnered a LOT of interest. The event ended on a high.

A few things that will stay with me forever – the aero-modelling demo and explanation, the geodesic dome, the nursery rhymes by Shakthi and the silicon plate at the lightning talks session, Ira’s Rapunzel (on paper) who had precisely 2 strands of really long hair, the rock cottages that had a verandah overlooking a small pool with a boat in-house (no kidding!) and the beautiful rock samples that were up on display.  One unforgettable moment was when Pooja made a 3D model of  a geodesic dome to help the team that was making a full sized geodesic dome using bamboos. That was collaboration at its best! Then there was the young biologist who held a frog in her hand and rushed to her professor and us to show the specimen she had caught. She was so careful in handling the creature and seemed to know everything about it!

Building a community, especially of individuals or groups with diverse interests is tough and exciting at the same time. The core organisers of SHD Belgaum seem to make it work like a charm. I wish for more hacks next year. There is a lot of unexplored territory – artists, designers, astronomers, nature lovers, food hacks, crazy electronics and more.

We left early morning the next day looking forward to visiting the Belgaum makerspace soon.