The #mozsprint heard round the world

Last week, we hosted our first global Mozilla Science Lab sprint. Over 22 cities were represented in the sprint (18 official sites with a number of other individuals joining us virtually) for two jam-packed days of round-the-clock sprinting on tools, lesson materials and resources for open science. It was a fantastic way of uniting the open research community around the world to collaborate on projects that further science on the web.

The sprint started in New Zealand, with sites in Auckland and Wellington kicking us off on Tuesday, July 22 (their time). From there, we passed the #mozsprint baton to community members in Melbourne, Australia, then to Europe as they began to wake up. We continued to pass the work on to the east coast of the United States as Europe broke for lunch, working until Europe signed off for the evening just as San Francisco and Vancouver got rolling. Then we started the cycle once more with our colleagues in New Zealand.

Timezones included, over the course of the two days, we clocked an astounding 52 hours of sprinting, linked between sites by chat clients, video screens and github issues. An astounding amount of work was accomplished during the sprint, and we wanted to take a moment to highlight some of what was worked on. You can find out more here in the project etherpads, as well as a roundup of activity here. We’ll be featuring a series of guest posts over the next few days to shed further light on the sprint, and hope you’ll join us in keeping up the momentum started last week on these projects. Still plenty of ways you can get involved.

On to some of the highlights:

Lessons and learning materials:

  • Medical imaging capstone examples, led by Matthew Dimmock. The aim of the capstone is to teach people how to select regions of data in medical images (CT, PET) for fitting and processing. The pull request (see bottom of page for latest modifications) can be found here. You can access (or fork) the IPython Notebook Matthew’s been working in here.
  • Digital Blacksmith course notes, led by Paul Mignone, to explore an training course approach for 3D printing and CAD. You can access the project and notes here. Additional content will be added in coming weeks. Currently focusing on the #Blender tutorials (

Tools for teaching:

  • Browsercast –  Caleb Creed worked really hard on understanding the scope and scaling for Browsercast – an IPython Notebook plugin which facilitates lecture recording and playback to assess the project.
  • Peer Instruction Teaching Tool, an effort to build a web application that implements the peer instruction teaching technique using the WebRTC technology and PeerJS project. This work was led by Piotr Banaszkiewicz, Rémi Emonet, Raniere Silva, and Leszek Tarkowski. You can see a full list of tickets closed as part of the sprint here.
  • Import Lesson, led by Remi Monet and Raniere Silva tried to break Software Carpentry lessons into small pieces to be reused by anyone. Thanks to W. Trevor King.

Tools for better science:

  • Scholarly markdown, on using Markdown to author scientific documents. Edward Abraham and Christopher Knox went through the process of taking a published manuscript and preparing it in markdown, to test out scholarly markdown. Martin Fenner also began work on a website for scholmd. The conclusion was that scholarly markdown is missing intra-document references,  and requires better support for templating, tables, and some other more minor fixes.


  • Modular File Renderer: Rendering, Exporting, and Sharing Scientific File Types, led by the team at the Center for Open Science. Over the course of the two days, they tackled a number of bugs, nearly completed ipython module, completed pdf module, planned geospatial module
  • Open Access Button – Timothee Alby hacked a ton of Javascript to get a Firefox add-on mostly working. Victor Ng implemented and pushed server-side support to production.
  • Open Notebook Science Network, working to create a network of open science notebooks, especially to close gaps between WordPress-based notebookers and researchers who are more technical or computational e.g. who prefer GitHub based collaboration. The team sprinting on this included Brian Glanz, Egon Willighagen, Colin Closek, Lisa Crosson, Rolf Pankratz, Parker Moore, Ben Balter and more.


Many thanks again to all of the site hosts, project leads and participants. We hope to continue building momentum as well as ties within the open research community, furthering the work started last week. Want to help us carry this work forward? Get in touch. Also, a reminder that the call for proposals is open for this year’s Mozilla Festival. Want to build on one of these projects at the Festival? Get that application in now.

1 response

  1. Paul Ivanov wrote on :

    Thank you Kaitlin and Greg and everyone at Mozilla for being such greats hosts.

    I wanted to thank again @_christinaLK @DrLabRatOry @benmarwick and @BernhardKonrad for helping to get IPython training wheels. We got a basic implementation to start playing around with:

    Better textual indicator of IPython mode (“command” vs “edit”)
    By clicking on a menu item you can:
    * Insert a code cell with some standard imports, as well as a markdown cell describing them.
    * Insert and execute a cell summarizing the student’s machine (python version,etc)
    Click on the header of a notebook to toggle through “digital stickies”:
    * red to indicate a student needs help
    * green for ready to go on / task completed
    * grey for neutral
    * for screenshots

    (tech hates me, because one of the the last edits on that etherpad removed the section about this : (I’ve added it again))