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Cal Poly Science Cafe at San Luis Obispo Mini Maker Faire

May 10, 2014 @ 11:00 am – 3:00 pm
Mission Plaza, San Luis Obispo

The San Luis Obispo Mini Maker Faire will celebrate doing and making again for its second annual event at Mission Plaza! This year, Cal Poly Science Cafe will feature Pete Hawkes, an interaction designer and artist based in Los Angeles. Pete will be on stage at intervals throughout the day leading us in a Binary Dance.

We’ll do some fun dance moves to toggle a symbolic bit value in a simple binary sequence: 1, 2, 4, 8, and 16. The dance is awkward, but a blast and will show how computers store complex data with simple 1′s and 0′s.

Here’s an example of his recent work, which Pete introduces this way:
I had the opportunity recently to do some work on a new interactive album from a Philip Glass / Beck collaboration called _REWORK. Good friend David Wicks was hired by Snibbe Studio (of Bjork iOS app fame) to create the app.

I created a series of visualizations in Processing that were used as jumping-off points for several of the tracks on the album. I lucked out and got to spend most of my time on Beck’s 21-minute track NYC—easily my favorite track on the album. The tests above use keystrokes to choreograph connections between independent particle subsystems. Final iterations in the app were rebuilt by David in Cinder to leverage events and information from MIDI, SVG, and XML.

More about Pete, from
Pete Hawkes holds an MFA in Design Media Arts from UCLA and a BFA in Graphic Design from Brigham Young University. He has designed interactive experiences for Nokia, Ogilvy Interactive, KFC, Liz Claiborne, Boeing, and the Sci-Fi Channel. Pete’s work has been presented at the AGIdeas Design Conference in Melbourne, Verge: the OgilvyOne Global Digital Summit, and FILE in Sao Paulo. He currently teaches part-time at UCLA Extension and works at Oblong Industries in Los Angeles.

A Map for the Future: Measuring Radiation Levels

February 14, 2014 @ 11:00 am – 12:30 pm
Kennedy Library, 2nd Floor Cafe Lounge, 1 Grand Avenue, California Polytechnic State University,San Luis Obispo,CA 93405, USA
Yoh Kawano

Kawano (left) and Jun Goto of Niigata University check out radiation levels inside the Fukushima Nuclear Evacuation Zone. (Photo: UCLAToday)

Please bring your smart phone loaded with the Twitter app if you’d like to participate in a live, interactive experience.

After the cataclysmic explosion in the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station triggered by the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 2011, more than 100,000 citizens living within 20km of the nuclear power station were evacuated. These residents were not allowed to return home for more than a year, until April 2012, when the Japanese government began to lift the evacuation order for some areas. As local governments contemplate strategies to revive these communities, a lingering question remains: how safe is it to live here?

Answering this question is difficult for a number of reasons.

At this Cal Poly Science Cafe, we explore the question, “What if we could provide data to allow individuals and communities to make their own assessments?” with Yoh Kawano, the UCLA GIS Coordinator.

The Radioisotope Center (RC) in Niigata University has built a vehicle-mounted radiation monitoring system consisting of a real-time GPS receiver, a dosimeter, and a laptop. This tool allows government officials in the affected municipalities to continuously measure airborne radiation levels. RC has partnered with the Institute for Digital Research and Education (IDRE) from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) to develop a public web-based interface to this data to inform citizens about radiation levels in their communities. Both of these tools enable gathering and making data available to the general public more easily, and allow the public to make informed decisions about the safety of the decontaminated zones in the absence of widely-accepted standards.

Yoh will bring the radiation monitoring system to Cal Poly for us to check out. Offered in partnership with the Data Studio.

More about Yoh Kawano

Yoh Kawano came to Los Angeles and UCLA in 1995 after living across the globe, in 5 different countries. At UCLA he works at the GIS and Visualization Sandbox for the Institute for Digital Research and Education (IDRE), serving as the Campus GIS Coordinator while holding lecturer positions in the School of Public Affairs and the Center for Digital Humanities. He has supervised projects in urban planning, emergency preparedness, disaster relief, volunteerism, archaeology, and the digital humanities. Current research and projects involve the geo-spatial web, visualization of temporal and spatial data, and creating systems that leverage social media and web services in conjunction with traditional information systems.

Read more about Yoh and this project in UCLAToday and UCLA Magazine.

Check out Venturing Inside the Nuclear Evacuation Zone on his blog, The Urban Nomad.

Watch a video of his TEDxUCLA presentation, Can Twitter Save Lives?

Urban Prototyping! From pilots to projects

October 24, 2013 @ 11:00 am – 12:30 pm
Robert E. Kennedy Library, 2nd Floor Cafe Area, California Polytechnic State University, 1 Grand Avenue,San Luis Obispo,California 93405, USA

Cal Poly Science Cafe welcomes GAFFTA, Gray Area Foundation for the Arts, a “diverse community of coders, artists, entrepreneurs, innovators, and civic leaders that believe in the potential for creatively applied digital art and technology to transform society.”

At this event, meet Josette Melchor, the Founder and Executive Director of GAFFTA and George Zisiadis, an artist who recently installed the interactive “Pulse of the City” in Boston. Together they will talk about GAFFTA’s urban prototyping model and how open urban prototyping can lead to pilots and pilots to products. They will also discuss the design process for Pulse of the City:

Josette Melchor — An early social entrepreneur, Josette started her first art gallery and studio program at the age of 19 by self-funding creative projects through her work in the technology industry.

As a community organizer, Josette led the launch of, a product of Gray Area Research, an artist-in-research program for creative technologies. She also ran City Centered, a program that connected cities with data artists for public good.

As a curator, Josette has worked with notable designers and interdisciplinary research centers including: MiT Senseable City Lab, Institute of Computer Sound and Technology, Stamen Design; artists C.E.B Reas, Robert Hodgin, Aaron Koblin, Camille Utterback, and many more.

Photo of installation from Pulse of the City in Boston, by George Zisiadis

Photo from Pulse of the City in Boston, by George Zisiadis

George ZisiadisI’m a San Francisco based interactive artist whose projects draw out the curiosity and endless fun that lie within us all. My work playfully re-imagines people’s relationships to their environments and to themselves. I collaborate with major brands like Nestle and institutions like the City of Boston to create engaging, interactive experiences for thousands in public settings.

His work has been featured in Wired, FastCompany, The New Yorker and Laughing Squid. He has a BA in Sociology from Harvard University.

More on urban prototyping:

DIY! Crowd Sourced Gaming: Competitive Collaborative Calamity

May 11, 2013 @ 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Mission Plaza, San Luis Obispo, CA, USA

A Cal Poly Science Cafe experience at the San Luis Obispo Mini-Maker Faire

The Kennedy Library and Cal Poly Science Café are delighted to partner with the first ever San Luis Obispo Mini-Maker Faire to bring you an interactive, crowd-sourced game at Mission Plaza.

Our featured maker, Michael Newman, will lead an interactive game in which you collectively compete with others in the audience to generate a fun visual event! He’ll also explain how he designed and built the game so you can try it at home. Be sure to bring your smart phone, which will be your tool for competition!

Video still of Compression Test

Michael Newman is a creative director, interactive developer and teacher, specializing in new media, content creation, product development and creative solutions. He previously collaborated with Cal Poly Science Café on DIY: Physical Computing at Play, which was featured on Boing Boing (

Michael created one of the world’s first Twitter games, and has also worked on a line of interactive pet toys, a slew of API mash-ups and has an extensive background in digital video. He currently teaches design and development classes at UCLA Extension and also helped develop the digital video portion of the Interactive Program at Pratt Manhattan. Michael received a BFA from the School of Visual Arts where he focused on oil painting.

Co-sponsored by San Luis Obispo Mini-Maker Faire. Learn more about Cal Poly Science Cafe.