Help create a Glocal and local scientific community playground

We are members of gyms, allotments, football clubs, create community gardens and spaces for all manner of purposes.  Why not have lab memberships? Where science and scientific progress can be powered by everyone, not just ‘scientists’.

The most traditionally used mechanism for funding community driven projects is monetary donations by the public and all donations are very gratefully received (including towards setting up this project).  However, what if you would like to get more involved, learn how experiments are done and what tools scientists use but aren’t studying a science degree.  Currently there are not many options.  However there is a growing community of DIY biologists/engineers primarily utilising open source information/projects that are already achieving remarkable things.

I would like, with your help to create both a local and global scientific playground through the development of open source low cost laboratory tools enabling everyone to participate in science.

What do I need?

I need your time, interested contact me.  I am now based in Sheffield in the UK, drop me a line.

I need your old lego, lego is a very useful building block for many devices, we already use it in the lab but I am particularly interested in the motorised lego ranges, they would be very useful for lab devices.

Where possible I would look to repurpose equipment that is generally thrown away as a product of our consumerism, old cd drives, cpu fans etc.  So that the tools we will build other people can access a lot of equipment for free.

Whilst money is a barrier (you need some to get anything done) having seen the remarkable things that can be achieved and the growing community of DIY biologists, actually the main barrier to progress is imagination, with communities of people creating the fuel.  I do not feel we are currently utilising the full extent of the possible fuel with science being restricted to relatively few.  Would you be interesting in helping me set this up, as I cannot do this alone?

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3 Responses to Help create a Glocal and local scientific community playground

  1. DrPWest says:

    I feel like this is a great idea, but I really struggle to see how it would be implemented & what the implications would be for scientists, would we all become unpaid volunteers?

  2. Some very valid points. Regarding implementation people are already doing this and there is growing community of DIY biologists (mainly synthetic) which has largely come out of open source informatics movements (GitHuB etc) which are now being coupled with low cost programming devices (arduino and raspberry pi being the prominent examples). The most prominent and established DIY type lab is madlab in Manchester (http://madlab.org.uk/about/). There are also a variety of hackerspaces around the UK, whose main focus is on devices and one implementation model is to charge users a monthly fee to cover overheads and create a physical space for people to meet and work on projects (there are other models). As in the implications for ‘scientists’, presumably you are referring to those who work predominantly as researchers in academic institutions. I don’t think this would happen (although I can eliminate the possibility that it would) for a variety of reasons. Firstly, money, life science research has a high burn rate related to consumable costs which at least in the short term will remain high and therefore out of reach for DIY biologists for the majority of things. Secondly, specialist equipment and expertise is pooled in Universities and other research organizations which would be difficult if not impossible to reproduce. These sort of DIY biology labs are driven by curiosity rather than agenda and in my opinion are not meant to replace ‘conventional’ or actually what I should say is ‘modern’ science but rather as and adjunct to it.

  3. typo ‘can not eliminate the possibility’

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