Science Hack Day Chicago: Making awesome things with science

Adler Planetarium: August 29th & 30th, 2015

Science Hack Day Chicago brings together software developers, designers, tinkerers, scientists, web enthusiasts, educators, and anyone with a passion for making cool things. The Adler Planetarium will host this 24-hour overnight event for teams to build amazing projects with science.

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The Event

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 30-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.

To get a feel for the energy and passion of the event check out this video from Science Hack Day San Francisco 2014.

How to get involved

Science Hack Day Chicago is a free event open to all. All ages are welcome to attend, but we ask that children under the age of 15 be accompanied by an adult. Participants hacking overnight must be over the age of 18 unless accompanied by a parent or guardian. Registration opens 7/29/15.



Hack days are very free-form events with teams self organizing and working together independently throughout the day. The Adler provides space and some equipment but most of all we provide the freedom to work on something uninterrupted for 24 hours. To encourage as much creativity and science hacking as possible we have a very light timetable of structure throughout the day. Here are just a few times of which you should be aware.

Saturday August 29th
9:00-9.30am Arrival & Registration
9:30am -9:45am Welcome & Introduction
9:45am-10:30am Hack Idea Pitches
10:30am Hacking Begins!
TBD Lunch & Dinner
10:00pm Last Re-Entry Into The Building
Sunday August 30th
8:00am Doors Reopen for Returning Hackers
10:00am Teams Present Their Hacks
11:00am Judging and Prizes
11:30am Close

Who should come along?

Anyone can come along to Science Hack Day Chicago no matter what skill set you bring. We need scientists, engineers, educators, tinkerers, storytellers, artists, game makers, writers, and people who are just curious.

On the day different people get involved in different ways. Here are some of different hack day personalities.

The Expert

This attendee comes with a vast depth of knowledge in a subject. Perhaps an astrochemist, or a marine biologist, and has the facts to help guide the projects and make them applicable in museums and the real world.

The Idea Person

This attendee comes with a hack idea in mind. This person needs others with additional skills in order to flesh out the idea and turn it into a reality. These are good people to watch out for if this is your first hack day or you're not sure what to do.

The Gun for Hire

This attendee is an all-star in his or her respective field and has a valuable skill set, perhaps an eye for design, or hardware hacking skills. This person is willing to help wherever possible and may move from project to project offering specific help.

The Helper

This attendee comes to the event without an agenda. The Helper often overhears an awesome idea and is immediately hooked. The person is thrilled to make the endeavor become a reality.

What to make?

Hacks can take many forms. Some are technical, like building a mask to simulate synethsesia while some are about creating new media like a children's book. There is something for everyone no matter what your background or skill set. Check out a few of our favorite projects from past science hack day events:

Galaxy Karaoke

Using galaxies that happen to resemble the shapes of letters to spell out the lyrics to David Bowie's: A Space Oddity, this team created a Karaoke system the like of which the world has never seen. Projected on to the dome of the Grainger Sky Theater onlookers could sing along by reading the galaxies flying at them through space.


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).


What does DNA taste like? 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.

Bring along anything you like but the Adler also has some pretty cool unique things to hack on. Including some 3D printers, arduinos, high altitude balloons and many other bits and bobs! Want to get a jump on the hack day? Get the word out about your idea and recruit some hackers for the event. Create a hack on our HackDash!

Hack sponsors

Science Hack Day Chicago is proud to partner with the following sponsors. We are grateful for their contributions which make the event possible. If you would like to sponsor Chicago Science Hack Day 2015 please contact for levels and benefits.