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Experiments Monitoring the Everyday: Society for Social Studies of Science Workshop San Diego

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Experiments Monitoring the Everyday: Society for Social Studies of Science Workshop San Diego

Sat Oct 12 2013, 4:00 to 5:30pm
Building/Room: Town and Country, Golden Ballroom Two

This workshop takes an interdisciplinary, hands-on approach to emerging methods for environmental monitoring in science and technology studies. Taking the site of the conference as our space for investigation, we will use low-tech monitoring contraptions created by artists, designers, and other DIY makers to make otherwise imperceptible elements of environmental health manifest, using our bodies and the conference venue our “field site." and we will learn through experience about the epistemological potential of investigating everyday spaces for potential pollutants. This workshop will be linked to a panel entitled: Making Environmental Harm Manifest.

The workshop will have four parts: 1) Introduction: There will be a short introduction of pre-existing monitoring approaches from art, design, and DIY disciplines. This will build on the earlier Panel Presentation Making Environmental Harm Manifest connected to this workshop. This can include anything from infrared scanners hooked up to laptops to using our own bodies to adjudicate air quality. 2) Small group work implementing different investigation methods: groups will spend time creating an on-the-spot field guide to the room we are in, making its hidden elements manifest and open to interpretation using DIY, art, or design devices. Group members will then create a representation of their findings to share with other groups. 3) Roundtable Discussion: Participants will come together and present their findings to the group, and report back the experiences of using their devices to investigate their surroundings. 4) Documentation and Follow-up: Workshop organizers will document the proceedings and representations to create a full field guide for potential exhibition and/or publication.


Portable and Affordable Nephelometric Data Acquisition System (PANDAS)

*David Holstius (UC Berkeley)

PANDAS (Portable and Affordable Nephelometric Data Acquisition System) aims to reduce material and labor costs involved in documenting disproportionate air pollution exposures from California to China. PANDAS instruments are not a specific, fixed design, but are constructed with materials readily available from institutions catering to hackers and DIY enthusiasts. To increase accessibility, PANDAS do not require the use or installation of uncommon software for managing or visualizing data. We have compared PANDAS estimates of hourly ambient PM2.5 concentrations to estimates created with much more sophisticated, costly, and specialized equipment. We found that the ability of both classes of instrumentation to serve as a surrogate for regulatory measurement methods was, at least in our limited field studies, approximately equivalent; this motivates additional testing and calibration in more varied locations and contexts (paper under review).

Battery-powered and laptop-connected PANDAS will be available for participants to use in collecting data on indoor levels of particulate matter (PM), investigating PM-generating activities, and considering differential levels of exposure to PM among children and adults.


Bodies As Detection Devices

*Max Liboiron (New York University)

While tools for monitoring chemicals in the environment have become increasingly sensitive and able to detect miniscule amounts of contaminants in the environment, human bodies remain a keen sensory indicator for many chemicals. In this workshop, we will use our bodies to identify chemicals, allergens, and other elements in the local environment.


Low Cost Thermal Imaging

*David Banks (RPI)

Experimenting with Thermal Painting David will be a leading a group to explore the thermal environment of the conference using Public Lab's Thermal Flashlights.


Experiments in Spectrometry and Near Infrared Imaging

*Sara Wylie (Northeastern University, Public Lab co-founder/organizer)

This workshop will introduce participants to Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science’s Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Spectrometer. Spectrometry is a commonly used process in chemistry to identify components in solution, based on their absorbance of wavelengths of light. Our spectrometer is made from a webcam, a broken CD and parts that can be picked up from your local hardware store. Public Lab is a non-profit, open source hardware and software development community with the mission of making DIY, low cost tools for community based environmental monitoring. Public Lab works to make environmental monitoring and science accessible to citizens, pushing back against the professionalization of science which has restricted participation to universities and laboratories. This is done through our public, freely accessible, online and offline communities for sharing and developing research projects and open source, low cost, DIY tool design by, and for, community-based environmental monitoring. In this workshop, we will use Public Lab’s open source spectrometer to investigate materials from the conference environment, and the larger implications of the project on environmental justice communities and the current state of scientific inquiry.