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Lil Labs: a hub for community science

$8,580
Pledged
86%
Funded
$10,000
Goal
6
Days Left
  • $8,580
    pledged
  • 86%
    funded
  • 6
    days left

About This Project

We're changing community science through the power of sharing! Our project constructs a network of tiny, accessible community lab spaces. Each Lil Lab is full of donated resources for everyone to borrow, use, and share, tailored to each neighborhood's needs. Some have seeds of culturally significant plants; others, aromatic spices, colorful art supplies, essential bike repair tools, or fermentation starters. All just a walk or roll away, ready to spark curiosity, creativity, and connection.

Ask the Scientists

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What is the context of this research?

How do we ensure that everyone sees themselves as a biologist? We must see science spaces in our kitchens, gardens, and sidewalks! We propose building neighborhood-based science swaps, similar to Little Free Libraries: Lil Labs. Imagine walking along your street and seeing a beautiful, recycled cabinet filled with frugal science tools, sourdough starters, and local seeds. This is a Lil Lab! An extension of community biology, Lil Labs are spaces to share science found in our everyday lives, enabling learning and creative expression in collaboration with living systems and with our neighbors. The Lil Lab Network will expand biology knowledge and tools throughout the country and the world by building labs in our own backyards.

What is the significance of this project?

Our Lil Lab movement believes science is part of every culture–both past and future. From children doing their first experiments to elders sharing cultural knowledge, Lil Labs celebrate the curiosity and expertise in our communities. They are hubs for hobby projects, artistic exploration, and culinary adventure. They hold supplies, facilitate workshops, enable citizen science, and support informal mentorship. Lil Labs are where art meets science, culture informs biological discovery, and true scientific dialogue happens.

Lil Labs don't just democratize access to science and biology; they fundamentally rethink who is a scientist and what science means to society. In doing so, they are an inclusive, collaborative, and community-driven approach to science that recognizes and values everyone.

What are the goals of the project?

This project will jumpstart the Lil Lab Network by providing seed grants to build 10 Lil Labs. By choosing seed grantees from diverse communities, we can design a myriad of Lil Labs and build a Lil Lab “Green”print for scaling to a global movement. Our Lil Lab Network vision is to have distributed community science hubs in every neighborhood. Through the Lil Lab Network, we aim to foster a culture of curiosity, innovation, and collaboration that empowers communities to learn with/from biology.

With initial support from experiment.com, we will create an open-source “green”print for anyone to build Lil Labs, as well as demonstrate safety and feasibility of Lil Labs. We hope this will allow us to grow the movement and seek future funding to become a stand-alone non-profit.

Budget

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Our budget gives us the resources to build; outfit; and support the Lil Labs themselves, as well as to fund our community partners who do the hard work of designing and maintaining these spaces!

Each community partner selected from our open call will receive $750 for designing and building their own Lil Lab, including their effort participating in the project. We'll also have an additional $2000 fund to buy supplies for partners to put into their Lil Labs.

We will provide a small magnetic counter that counts how many times public users engage with Lil Labs. We also will create and mail official tags to attach to Lil Labs with QR codes, the logo, etc. Finally, we'll create some materials for social media, a website, etc to globally launch the Lil Lab Network!

Endorsed by

I am always excited by anything that brings more resources to community based science. I love the accessibility of the idea of Lil Labs and how to create more hubs for science. I am confident in the team and their ability to pull off this project!
I enthusiastically endorse the Lil Labs project and it's vision for providing access to science to diverse communities and in ways that broaden who sees themselves as a scientist and what science can be. I have collaborated with Nasa Sinnott-Armstrong on many projects and have no doubt their wide-ranging experience and leadership will enable the success of this project!
The Lil Labs project is a much needed model for expanding access to biotechnology conversations and to seeding place-based biodesign in hyper local community spaces. I know Prof. Sinnott-Armstrong as an amazing creative and academic with deep skills to pilot the Lil Lab Network. This passionate and dedicated team will nurture and collaborate with the initial hubs as they develop useful models, lessons, and shared resources that facilitate the fertile growth of many additional accessible Lil Labs!
This project has the potential to transform how science is viewed and engaged with in every neighborhood! By putting science in the hands of the people through Lil Labs, I hope that we can grow communities that are bio-literate, excited about science, and feel empowered to create change from the ground up. 🌱
Everyone should have the option of learning about biology. Everyone should have the chance to become a citizen of the biotic future. Lil' Labs are essential and affordable infrastructure for fostering awareness, learning, and dialog with and about biology and biotechnologies. Best of all anyone can make their own Lil' Lab to help others learn. Let's go!
The Lil Labs project represents a simple and scalable strategy to foster community engagement in science. I have already had the opportunity to see Prof. Sinnott-Armstrong begin undertaking pilots of this project, and their enthusiasm and willingness to work with folks in every local context is invaluable to the success of the project. I look forward to seeing the things people do with Lil Labs!

Project Timeline

We’re already prototyping a Lil Labs “Green”print, with pilot Lil Labs in Boston, Honolulu, Palo Alto (2), Salinas, and Seattle (2). Over the next 4 months, we will support 10 community partners with seed grants to build, test and assess a Lil Lab near them.

These 17 Lil Labs will start the Lil Lab Network. After evaluating these Lil Labs, we will revise our “Green”print to share on the Lil Labs website and social media. Finally, we will formally launch the Lil Labs movement!

Mar 15, 2024

Summarize existing pilot Lil Labs and draft Lil Labs “Green”print 

Mar 26, 2024

Project Launched

Apr 01, 2024

Open application for community partners (seeking 10) 

May 01, 2024

Close of community partner application

May 10, 2024

Announce seed grant recipients (10 community partners) 

Meet the Team

Nasa Sinnott-Armstrong
Nasa Sinnott-Armstrong
Assistant Professor

Affiliates

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center & University of Washington
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Kevin Cordero
Kevin Cordero

Affiliates

Stanford University
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Bria Metzger
Bria Metzger

Affiliates

University of Washington
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Nasa Sinnott-Armstrong

Nasa is a researcher, artist, and teacher passionate about recentering community in scientific praxis. They received a PhD in Genetics and MS in Environmental Global Health from Stanford University in 2022, and primarily use statistical, genetic, and experimental tools to understand environmental health. They are currently an Assistant Professor at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center and University of Washington in Seattle.

Kevin Cordero

Kevin is a second-year undergraduate student at Stanford University studying bioengineering. After his time there, he hopes to pursue an MD/PhD dual degree with a specific interest in neurosurgery. He joined the Petritsch lab in September of 2023 and has been helping to explore the therapeutic potential of the BRAF V600E peptide vaccine in inhibiting glioma formation and modulating immune response in a novel high-grade glioma mouse model. Additionally, Kevin enjoys/partakes in visual arts, dance, music, and theater. He also is working on a public policy start-up initiative called BIO4E which hopes to democratize biology. Support this project here: https://bio4e.sites.stanford.edu/ !

Bria Metzger

Bria is a 1st year PhD student in Cell and Molecular Biology at the University of Washington. As a scientist, she is interested in development and regeneration -- how cells specifically and robustly coordinate fate and behavior in shifting contexts. In her art, she likes to use scientific and mixed media techniques to explore these same questions of fate, identity, and connectivity.

Lab Notes

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  • 86%Funded
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