Low-Cost Tools for Science


Supported By

Science has always relied on tools and instruments to extend our experimental powers. Many of those tools have grown expensive and exquisite. Low-cost science tools increase access and the pace of exploration.

Science Leads: Shannon Dosemagen and Jenny Molloy

Challenge Amount:
Submission Deadline:
May 31, 2023
Campaign Launch:
May 31, 2023

How this works

Learn more

Learn more about Experiment challenges on the challenges main page.

Challenge Aims

We want to support projects that aim to build and/or test new low-cost tools for science.

Low-cost science tools can increase access to scientific experimentation and inquiry for individuals and organizations that may not have the resources to purchase expensive laboratory equipment and supplies. This can help to close the gap between those who have access to science resources and those who do not.

Low-cost science tools can also help to encourage innovation by providing individuals and organizations with the resources they need to develop and test new ideas and theories. This can lead to new discoveries and advancements in scientific knowledge.

Examples of low-cost tools for science include Foldscope, FieldKit, and the Cubesat standard.

The goal of this small, fast grant program is support more of these types of projects here on Experiment — a small and fast grant program to get new ideas off the ground quickly. We will back eligible projects up to $10,000 (although you can try to raise more using the crowdfunding aspect of Experiment, too). The funds will be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis. The sooner you fill out a project application the better (use the "start a project" link below). Bold ideas and questions are encouraged to apply.

Experiment requires that projects be framed in a scientific research context.  This can be a challenge for tool-centric projects, but you should ensure that your proposal includes the use of your tool to answer a research question. Here are examples to give you a sense of how to embed your tool in a research context: deep-sea camerainfrared spectroscopysmart watches as ocean sensors. You should also explain how you will share the outputs of your project, to enable other people to use the tool.

Photo credit: Wilson Center and Pentagram

Project Eligilibity

Projects must meet Experiment project guidelines and funding discretion rests with the Science Lead.