Low-cost science kits help African students conduct experiments

Having access to basic equipment like test tubes and centrifuges to perform simple science experiments is a given in most American universities. Not so in Africa, where students face a shortage of equipment needed to undertake even basic lab experiments.

Chemistry graduate student Betsy Melenbrink is a member of an international team aiming to help fill the void by building a low-cost electrochemistry device for use in that part of the world.

The group has designed and built a device known as a potentiostat, the hardware used in most electrochemistry experiments. Bright green, small enough to fit in a hand and resembling a video-game controller, it’s now in beta-testing at three East African universities in Malawi, Tanzania and Kenya. A wider rollout is planned later this year.

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