The event 'Innovation, Hacking, Free and Open Source: Think Different' at the Museum of Science Boston was organized by Joseph Paul Cohen and Emily Flaherty as part of the high school lecture series on 2/7/2013. This event brought together some of the best computer engineers from the Boston area to engage high school students and educate them about FOSS and the current tools that are being used in startup companies all over the world. The overview message of the day is: "FOSS is the philosophy and suite of technologies that make innovation and liberty possible."

Keynote Talk - Joseph Paul Cohen

New platforms are making innovation that once required wealthy investors possible for free! Join Joseph Paul Cohen of the University of Massachusetts Boston to learn about platforms that are revolutionizing the world of technology - Facebook, Twitter, Google, Instagram, etc. He'll begin with the current foundations of innovation, such as Linux, PHP, Python, Ruby, Java, and HTML5, and share how they're used to enable innovation without requiring wealthy investors. Will your students be the next start-up entrepreneurs?

Topics/Goals of FOSS/Hacking/Innovation event at the Museum of Science Boston

  • First off, FOSS is a philosophy (Free and Open Source Software)
  • People use FOSS to be more productive, not just because its a philosophy
  • FOSS will scale with you from your home use to the Google/Facebook/Twitter scale
  • Students leave the event with the knowledge needed to start playing with Linux

Museum of Science Event webpage


Event date: 2/7/2013
9am - 1:30pm
Table Expo-Style Presentations in Science Wing center area
10:30am - 11:30am
Keynote talk: Innovation, Hacking, and Free and Open Source by Joseph Paul Cohen in Cahners Theater


Wireless Game

During the course of the event a wireless access point was broadcasting the SSID "InnovationHackingFOSS" which, when connected, routed all traffic to a single webserver running a game. This game is available HERE. The winners of this game were entered into a raffle to win one of 4 full desktop computers or a Raspberry Pi. There were 5 winners in total so everyone received a prize!


Stickers were custom made for the event and handed out as hints to the wireless game. They were for fun as well as to give hints for the wireless game.

Table Presentations

Build your own PC - Dave Chapman, William Constantino, Anthony Reid, Nicholas Rosato, Roy Wattanasin, and Joseph Paul Cohen

Being able to see the forest for the trees is the goal for this table. Everyone uses a computer but do they know the parts that work together? Visitors will assemble and debug desktop computers that they put together from spare parts. Everyone should learn the knowledge needed to go home and build their own computer from parts.

Arduino Basics - Henry Z Lo, John Liang, Anna Gavrilman, and Kevin Amaral

This exhibit will teach you how to program electronic devices that interact with the real world. Using the Arduino, an open source hardware platform, students will learn the basics of programming, apply these principles to interfacing with hardware, and ultimately do cool stuff.
Source Code:

  • Blinking lights and counting counters
  • Strength measurement using pressure sensors and lights
  • Talking soundboard, which says different phrases based on key presses
  • Rangefinder with distance display

Raspberry Pi w/Bluetooth - Royce Stubbs and Joseph Paul Cohen

Raspberry Pi is a small credit card sized Linux computer that runs a variant of Debian. Bluetooth can be used to control the device by allowing wireless shell access into the system using the blucat ( command line tool. Bluetooth can also be used to create a wireless speaker system.

Playing Mario Against [a] Python - Brandon Tansey

The ability to script is an essential addition to any tinkerer's skill set. Whether automating backups, parsing data, or saving princesses, scripting can almost always make your life a little bit easier. Come take on Brandon's Mario-playing Python script to see how scripting can not only complete repetitive tasks for you, but also complete tasks more effectively than the manual approach.

Squishy Circuit - Lydia Beall & Miriam Ledleys

Explore electronics and create circuits using Playdough.

Makey Makey - Jackie Gonzalez

MaKey MaKey is an invention kit for the 21st century. Turn everyday objects into touchpads and combine them with the internet. It's a simple Invention Kit for Beginners and Experts doing art, engineering, and everything in between. Come explore MaKey MaKey with the Museum of Science Computer Clubhouse!

Smart Phone Ad-Hoc Networking (SPAN) - Jeff Robble, Oliver Chong, and Sheldon Durrant

Disaster strikes! Cell towers are down and the Internet is out. What do you do? Install the open source Smart Phone Ad-Hoc Networking (SPAN) app on your phone, share it with your peers, and create your own mesh network from scratch. No infrastructure (or assembly) required.