Education and Capacity Building for Open Science Hardware in Sub-Saharan African Universities. (ECB4OSH)

24 Jul 2023 (modified: 01 Aug 2023)InvestinOpen 2023 OI Fund SubmissionEveryoneRevisionsBibTeX
Funding Area: Capacity building / Construcción de capacidad
Problem Statement: Access to scientific tools and equipment among students, educators, researchers, and scientists is severely limited in most African communities, hindering their ability to conduct research, educate, and foster innovation, especially in Ghana. This lack of access poses a significant obstacle for Ghanaians to address local challenges. Majority of Ghanaian students go through their education without access or with a limited access to scientific tools for practical experience. The few educational institutions that can afford this often expensive scientific tools can only purchase a limited number, leaving a vast number of students without the scientific instrumentation they need to experiment with, and gain practical knowledge. Many schools and universities in Ghana suffer due to the lack of well-equipped laboratories and equipment for research and education. The open science movement is rapidly gaining momentum in Africa and Ghanaian communities can leverage the opportunities offered by open science principles to develop low cost scientific solutions that can be used to address the various local challenges in Ghanaian regions. Without a strong foundation in science, no region has been able to make social or economic progress. Without access to affordable scientific tools and equipment, there will always be a huge knowledge gap between Ghanaian communities and other regions, reinforcing global disparities in scientific advancements
Proposed Activities: This project will organize education and capacity building workshops for 60 university students on open science hardware in Ghana, and enhance their capacity and skills in building and utilizing scientific tools and equipment, with a specific focus on the OpenFlexure Microscope. Optical microscopes play a vital role in clinics for disease detection, labs for scientific analysis, and schools for educational research. Unfortunately, many regions in Sub-Saharan Africa, specifically Ghana, face limitations in accessing high-performance microscopy due to the high upfront and maintenance costs associated with the equipment, coupled with overpriced shipping costs. This presents a significant challenge for most local clinics, laboratories, and especially students who require such microscopes as an essential tool for their learning, research and practical knowledge. To address this issue, the OpenFlexure Microscope has emerged as a promising solution. It is an open-source, 3D-printed, and fully-automated laboratory microscope equipped with motorized sample positioning and focus control. What makes this microscope remarkable is its high level of customization, offering various options such as trans- and epi-illumination, polarisation contrast imaging, and epi-fluorescence imaging. Designed to facilitate local manufacturing and maintenance, the OpenFlexure Microscope significantly enhances accessibility by reducing costs. We have specifically chosen to conduct educational capacity building workshops on this microscope to leverage its affordability and accessibility. The project will establish a network of students, forming an open microscopy network in Ghana. This network will be hosted on the GOSH Community forum, providing students with access to global open science hardware practitioners for mentorship and collaboration opportunities. Proposed Activities: Introduction to Open Source/Science Hardware: Hands-on Building: Practical Demonstrations: Adapting and Modifying Open Source Hardware Solutions to Meet Local Needs: Technical Training on the OpenFlexure Microscope: Collaborative Exercises: Documentation and Open Licensing: Sharing and Collaboration Platforms: Q&A Sessions and Discussions: Evaluation and Feedback: Timeline (November 2023 - February 2024) Pre Planning Phase - Engaging universities in Ghana Planning Phase - Development of Open educational resources for the workshops. Procurement of hardware components for the Microscopes Project Implementation (Training and Capacity-Building Workshops) Post Workshop Phase - Strengthening the Network of Open Microscopy in Ghana through this project. Community Donation of the OpenFlexure Microscope. Monitoring, Evaluation, and Sustainability: Expertise and Resources Required: Workshop Coordinator Technical Support Personnel Expert trainers Venue and Facilities Workshop Materials Funding/Sponsorship Registration and Communication Evaluation and Feedback
Openness: Open Infrastructure: Open Source Approach: The project will emphasize the use of open-source designs, documentation, and software for the development of open science hardware devices. This will allow for knowledge exchange, collaboration, and improvement among participants. Engaging the Broader Community: Open Workshops and Training Programs: The project includes open workshops and training programs that will provide hands-on learning experiences to participants on open science hardware devices, specifically the OpenFlexure Microscope. Donating Microscopes to the Community: Microscopes built during these workshops will be donated to local schools and universities and local makerspaces who are in need of scientific tools for scientific research and education. Open Sharing of Project Output: Open Access Publications: The project will disseminate research findings, educational materials, documentation, and project outcomes through open-access publications. This ensures that the outputs are freely available to the wider scientific community, facilitating knowledge transfer and collaboration. Online Platforms and Repositories: This project will partner with the Pan-African digital repository AfricArXiv to share project outputs, including documentation, and educational materials. This platform enables easy access, download, and collaboration, enhancing the openness and accessibility of the project's resources.
Challenges: In our pilot workshop on the OpenFlexure Microscope in June 2023, where we trained 13 students from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Ghana, we encountered a few challenges. We anticipate facing similar hurdles in future workshops and we have taken the time to reflect and learn from this experience. We have devised effective strategies to mitigate these challenges to maximise the probability of success. 1. We have devised a plan to conduct pre-event awareness campaigns through various channels, including social media platforms, as well as targeted outreach within the selected universities, specifically engaging Science and Engineering Faculties. 2. We have devised a strategy that involves sourcing in advance the majority of hardware components for the OpenFlexure Microscope from local suppliers. Also, we plan to order some hardware components online. 3. To navigate the diverse university bureaucracies and priorities requires effective communication. To address this challenge, we have developed a comprehensive plan to engage with the Science and Engineering Departments/Faculties of the selected universities. By establishing these partnerships and communication, we aim to secure the use of university venues for the workshops and enable student participation. To ensure sufficient time for coordination, we will initiate communication with university authorities at least one month prior to the workshops.
Neglectedness: There are other potential sources of funding available for open science hardware and capacity building workshops on open science hardware devices, including the Global Open Science Hardware Community and the Open Science Hardware Foundation. In June 2023, AfricaOSH successfully obtained a micro grant totaling USD 500 from the Global Open Science Hardware Community and the Albert P. Sloan Foundation to run an open science hardware workshop in Ghana ( This grant enabled us to host an open science hardware workshop in Ghana on the OpenFlexure Microscope, specifically designed for 13 science and engineering students from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Kumasi.
Success: Measuring the success of our proposed work would be done through a number of indicators. Short-term Impact Participant Engagement and Learning: The workshop will engage participants, foster active learning, and equip students with practical skills and knowledge related to open source hardware. Participants should demonstrate enthusiasm, active participation, and a solid understanding of the workshop's content and objectives, learning how to build and use the OpenFlexure Microscope and the use of open licenses in open hardware projects. Workshop proceedings will be disseminated via open-access platforms such as Zenodo. Collaborative Network: The workshop will facilitate the establishment of a collaborative network where participants, facilitators, and other stakeholders can continue to share knowledge, exchange ideas, and collaborate on future open hardware projects. Long-term Impact Practical Applications and Impact: The long-term success of the project will be seen through the application and utilization of open science hardware in practical contexts. This will involve participants incorporating open source principles into research projects and community-based initiatives, adapting existing open source hardware, resulting in tangible benefits for various scientific fields, and addressing local challenges in Ghana and across Africa.
Total Budget: 14300
Budget File: pdf
Affiliations: Africa Open Science and Hardware (AfricaOSH)
LMIE Carveout: Leadership: The project is primarily led by an organization based in Ghana. The organization will be responsible for the project planning, implementation, and decision-making and have their primary working location in Ghana. Location of Community: The project's community, including its users, contributors, and maintainers,including services and products are designed to address the specific needs and challenges faced by student communities in Ghana, with an eye on applicability beyond the country. Widely Adopted in LMIEs: The services and products provided by the project are aimed to be widely adopted and utilized by student communities in Ghana. Additionally, the project aspires for this impact to be embraced by other student communities across Sub-Saharan Africa.
Team Skills: Technical Expertise: Our team possesses strong technical skills in open science hardware, including electronics, prototyping, hardware design, and fabrication. Pedagogical Skills: Our team possesses experience in designing and delivering effective educational and capacity building programs. Knowledge of Open Science and Open Hardware: Our team possesses a deep understanding of the principles and practices of open science, as well as open hardware Cultural Sensitivity and Local Context: Our team possesses understanding of the cultural and societal context of Ghana. Our team has lived experiences and partnerships with individuals and leaders from Ghanaian Universities that ensure that the workshops and capacity-building efforts are culturally appropriate, relevant, and inclusive. Networking and Partnerships: Our team possesses strong partnerships with local makerspaces, universities and community groups in Ghana. These partnerships provide access to local networks, facilitate community engagement, and help identify specific needs and challenges within the target communities. Project Management and Organizational Skills: Our team possesses effective project management skills, including planning, resource allocation and monitoring, and evaluation. Our team possesses organizational skills to ensure the smooth execution of the workshops, including logistics, budgeting, and coordination with relevant stakeholders.
Submission Number: 28