Today’s spotlight is on the DIY Bio lab at Spark-Y. Although a segment of the lab based support team for the last three years and a growing branch of the Spark-Y tree, not much has been published about our DIY Bio lab. It’s time to take a closer look at what we have to offer.

What is DIY Bio? 
Also known as Bio-hacking, DIY Bio is a movement of hobbyists aiming to increase accessibility to all types of biology, often focusing on molecular biology. At Spark-Y, this takes the form of making low-cost alternatives to expensive peaces of equipment. Some examples are our 3D printed pipettes, Light Bulb PCR machine, and in house assembled gel imager.

What is our lab like?
Our small, BioSafetyLevel1 lab is tucked into a corner of our office area at our Chicago Ave. headquarters. We focus heavily on biology and use our space to investigate, explore, and augment other branches of Spark-Y. Some projects that we have recently completed are STEM experiment kits for our educators to take with them to our programs. We are currently working on outfitting our test system with sensing and data logging capabilities.

Woah cool, how long has Spark-Y had a lab?
The first incarnation of the lab was made in the summer of 2013, and was made of donated cabinetry. The lab was re-made in it’s current location spring of 2016. Most of our equipment was either purchased when the first lab was made or donated.

What can a lab like this do?
Although we have some limitations when it comes to safety (all organisms must be bio-safety level one) and chemical disposal (drain safe chemicals only), we are able to perform the basics of molecular biology such as DNA analysis. Much of our work is in the small electronics field, building equipment.

I like science! Can I work in the lab too?
YES! Our mission is to increase access and involvement in STEM disciplines – If you are a hobbyist and need a place to work on your science-y project, come hang out on our open lab nights! Contact or the MN DIY Bio group for more information.

If you are a minor and would like to do some hands on science, we will be offering workshops. Stay tuned!