A typical dream of an active citizen scientist might be to have one's own fully-equipment research laboratory and tinkering space conveniently established in one's own garage or basement.
Proper lab setup, either being a diy bio lab or an electronics lab or even a nuclear fusion lab, takes a great deal of planning, time, and at least some form of significant financial resource.
So, not everyone can implement personal lab spaces at home. And that is where the Hackerspace can be of assistance.
A hackerspace is a specialized open community lab where people with similar interests can meet, collaborate, experiment, and create. These are typically run as a membership organization with a board of directors and paying members, and many maintain non-profit 501(c)3 tax status. Although, this author has not yet been directly involved with any particular hackerpace, the concept of this community format is exciting, and it is growing quickly in world-wide reach and popularity. Hackerspaces offer the essence of citizen science, and by distributing the burden of funding and management to the membership, they offer an accessible and efficient way for anyone to make their amateur research dreams come alive.
Hackerspaces.org (visit) provides an international online space for connection and collaboration between brick-and-mortar hackerspace organizations, and provides how-to documentation and support for those interested in joining existing groups or creating your own. Many of the existing hackerspaces focus on the "physical sciences"--namely, electronics, software development, and making machines that go "ping"! In a little more than one month, a San Francisco Bay-area hackerspace is attempting to gain enough funding to open a "biological" hackerspace called BioCurious. They have set up a Kickstarter project (visit) to help quickly grow interest in support, and if you live in the area you should check out the new group as they will likely provide a great, new opportunity for citizen scientists, as well as pave the way for the development of more "biohack"-spaces around the world.
Hackerspaces All Over The World [ VIEW and Find one near you ]
A sampling of US big city hackerspaces...
[ CHICAGO ] :: [ NEW YORK ] :: [ SAN FRANCISCO ] :: [ WASHINGTON, D.C. ]
For our friends in the UK, check out The Hackerspace Foundation [ VISIT ]
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