Pilot Open School Network

This is a follow-up to a previous post:

Extending OSH to Schools - Communities / Education - GOSH Community Forum (openhardware.science)

Short Story

We would like to establish a network of high school science clubs to create a community of students who build and use open science hardware designs. We are interested in collaborating with other members of the GOSH community who may share that interest.

Long Story

Development and use of open-source educational hardware in colleges and universities has grown exponentially in recent years. In contrast, use of open-source hardware in K-12 schools has been limited to date. (Heradio, et al., 2018)

The National Technology Leadership Summit (NTLS) coalition, a consortium of twelve international teacher educator associations, and members of the Gathering for Open Science Hardware (GOSH), would like to extend the benefits of open-science hardware to K-12 schools. We propose two strategies for accomplishing this:

  1. A Peer-reviewed Library of Open-Source Designs for K-12 Schools

For 25 years members of the NTLS coalition have jointly published an open-source peer-reviewed journal, Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education (www.citejournal.org). We now propose to extend the review process to create an Educational CAD Model Library of open-source designs for K-12 schools.

  1. An Open-Source Network of High School Science Clubs

We propose to develop a network of science clubs that will be an expert and peer-mentored community to build and use open hardware designs from the CAD Library in science projects.

We are seeking seed support to establish an initial proof-of-concept network of schools in Virginia and North Carolina. Teachers serving as mentors for K-12 students would be supported by scientists and educators at the University of Virginia and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The OpenFlexure microscope would be used for an initial pilot. This laboratory-grade microscope can be constructed using 3D printed parts and a Raspberry Pi single-board computer. The cost for an OpenFlexure microscope is a few hundred dollars in comparison with thousands of dollars for the commercial equivalent. The significant savings can make scientific hardware more accessible to K-12 students, especially those in school systems with fewer resources.

In an initial pilot, teams of high school science students will participate in a course that will teach skills in CAD design, 3D printing, electronics, optics, computer interfacing, and robotics as they build microscopes. Construction of scientific equipment can lead to deeper understanding of underlying principles and provide students with skills that will be useful in university laboratories after they graduate from high school. Participating students also benefit the school by leaving the legacy of a scientific instrument that can serve other students who use the microscope in their classes for years to come.

The materials and resources developed through this process will be used to update the design published in the CAD Library, making it accessible to other school systems. An associated CAD Library Forum will support collaboration among the community of educators engaged in this work and facilitate expansion of the model network to other geographic regions.