Public Lab Research note

Highlights: Working with Communities in the DIY Oil Testing Booklet

by stevie | May 04, 2016 18:06 04 May 18:06 | #13075 | #13075

The second section of the new DIY Oil Testing Booklet, which we’re highlighting this week, is focused on Working with Communities.

In this section, you will find four workshops ready to help you lead a group through:

  • designing an experiment
  • building a spectrometer
  • calibration and scanning
  • finally analyzing your results

Check out the workshops here:


To highlight #1:

The Design an Experiment workshop can be used for anyone who is interested in conducting experiments which make use of the scientific method. It will help you work through understanding the capabilities and limitations of data. Participants in this workshop will be able to learn about the elements needed for good experimental design, identify important points of designing a clear experiment, draft questions and transform them into hypotheses, and explored the concept of proof versus likelihood.

This section of the Oil Testing Booklet also explores the nuances of working with both online and offline community members. It provides material on outreach strategies for those working at different stages in projects. It explains how Public Lab run an online program for people to helped identify and to show the ability and limitations of the Oil Testing Kit through replication.

For those interested in community tool development, another section in this chapter explores the new concept of “Open open hardware” -- a reference to the fact that many “open hardware” projects are developed in private and only published openly upon completion. By contrast, the process we’ve proposed and begun to adopt is one where the goals includes things like:

  • low barrier to entry for new contributors
  • predictable revision timeline
  • regular iteration and feedback on proposed changes to help them get prepared for the next release due date
  • a single, consistent, versioned, "baseline" design for the project, emphasizing simplicity & low cost, but upon which advanced mods may be made

Learn more about the workshops, the programs and ideas explored in this project with the Oil Testing Kit Booklet:

Order here ($10 paperback)


This is pretty smart!

But why not use a recent devise has called 'Scio', it'll already make most of the job by detecting materials by scanning the spectrum of their light, and translate them into elements and molecules. You can scan the water and it'll tell you if in the water there is oil.

*I'm not sell the product, I share the technology :-)

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Hi @TommyJJ thanks for your comment. Just checked it out, looks neat. Always exciting to hear about new technologies. Some of the things that make this project important to me is that this tool is open source, it's easy to build and to understand how it works, it's really inexpensive or you can build it for free with the schematics that live on this site. Also, the spectrometer is created and supported by the Public Lab community.

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Hi Stevie, I got one of this booklet at Barnraising, left it somewhere and can not find : ( I wondered where can I have the pdf version of this booklet? Thanks!

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Hi @shanlter I'm not sure about the PDF. @warren do you know if there's a PDF copy of the booklet together somewhere?

Might take a bit to figure this out, we're starting the holiday break here.

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@shanlter the whole thing should be online here though:

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Thanks @stevie, Merry Christmas!

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Happy new year!

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Thanks a lot and happy new year! I am trying to use this to develop workshops with Hong Kong Baptist University. Hope it can happen in the middle of the year. @warren

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