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Empowering DIY Scientists with Accessible Tools

2021 The Wilson Center | Technology Education NGO

Amateurs and experts alike benefit from consumer versions of scientific tools like robots and 3D printers. To promote low–cost, open–source products that encourage experimentation and generate data, non–partisan think tank the Wilson Center and its subsidiary THINGTank approached Accurat in conjunction with Pentagram to design and develop a web interactive guide. "Science Stack: Tools Within Reach" aims to engage its target audience with an inventive concept and a magentic interface.


Create a fun and informative experience to promote accessible tools that benefit the scientific community.


An actionable guide that engages users with playful design and interactivity.


Data visualization & UI design; Front–end development


Web Interactive

Background & Process

The explosion of affordable, open–source tools is transforming science. Ordinary people can now purchase and maintain equipment that allows them to experiment and make discoveries. Simultaneously, the data that these devices yield is providing scientists with new streams of information that are invaluable to research. Accessible tools constitute a win–win for science; the field only stands to benefit from wider adoption and usage.

The Wilson Center is a non–partisan policy institute that tackles global issues through its support of independent research and open dialogue. Their Science and Technology Program's THINGTank operates at the intersection of design and technology. With the goal of raising awareness of the variety of devices on the market and educating potential users, representatives contacted Accurat in collaboration with Giorgia Lupi's team at Pentagram to design and develop an interactive resource for learning.

Tasked with creating an experience that resonated with the target audience by virtue of ease—and enjoyment—of use, we brainstormed a number of ideas before landing on a concept inspired by the analog, DIY look and feel of objects themselves. The deployed design is inspired by cards (library catalog cards, computer punch cards, trading cards, etc.): a tactile, pre–digital means of information–keeping and sharing.

We worked collaboratively with the Wilson Center to develop content, conducting research to identify data and formulate sets applicable to the range of tools.


"Science Stack: Tools Within Reach" launched in May 2021 to coincide with the National Week of Making.

The deployed site takes the form of an interactive infographic. Upon landing, users are greeted with an animation of a stack of cards falling into place, and an invitation to "Click Anywhere to Start." UI/UX elements cannily evoke the physicality of cards: their sorting, stacking, separating, etc.

Each tool is represented in a colorful card that contains a wealth of qualitative and quantitative information. The hue of a prominent rectangular shape, for example, corresponds to the product's significance. Does it encourage new uses? Promote co-creation? Broaden user communities? Democratize ideas and design? Smaller shapes expand on significance, denoting if a tool is modular in design, for instance, and/or if it produces open data. The product's category is indicated by the color of a half–moon shape. Mint green is a robot, pink is a microscope, and so forth. All coded elements appear in the background of text or along the periphery, putting information first.

"Tools Within Reach" advances the work of THINGTank and the Wilson Center through its substantive promotion of tools that impact science. Its charming, inspired design, meanwhile, was awarded in the digital media category in the 69th TDC competition: the longest running, most prestigious, global typography and type design competition.