About Us

ND LIGHTS, Laboratory Instrumentation Giving Hope To Students, is a program that repurposes Notre Dame’s surplus laboratory equipment by donating it to resource-limited high schools and colleges.  It is a sustainable initiative that utilizes the gift of working but retired instrumentation to contribute to science programs at schools across the nation and beyond.  The program includes developing laboratory experiments for the high school-level instrumentation, training the recipient high school teachers, and gifting the experiment materials for a class. ND LIGHTS addresses the problem of ill-equipped laboratories in schools and goes one step further to ensure the use of donated equipment in the recipient schools.  

ND LIGHTS began  in the fall of 2010. With the support of the College of Science, the Office of Sustainability, Surplus, and Research and Sponsored Programs Accounting, the program flourished in its first year. The first set of donations was gifted during the 2010-2011 academic year, and the first recipients were trained in the summer of 2011.  In its inaugural year, ND LIGHTS donated 12 items to six schools and trained five inner-city and resource-limited school teachers from across the country.  ND LIGHTS donated over $275,000 worth of lab equipment in its first year.

The second year of the program brought more donations and the incorporation of Notre Dame undergraduate students into the community outreach endeavor.  Dr. Michelle V. Joyce developed and began teaching the College of Science laboratory course “Instrumentation and Science Education” in which undergraduate students test the donated laboratory instrumentation, develop a high school-level science experiment utilizing the instruments, and train the recipient teachers on how to perform the experiment.  Along with protocols and training, the recipient teachers receive the materials and reagents needed to perform the experiment for their classes.  In the first three years of the program, the additional materials used in the experiments have been gifted from scientific supplier VWR as they have committed to being a partner in the ND LIGHTS program.

ND LIGHTS strives to give retired or upgraded laboratory equipment a second life and to contribute positively to resource-limited schools.  The model of only donating working equipment and incorporating protocols, experiments, and training with the donation enables the instrumentation to be used immediately by the recipient schools.

It is our hope to inspire other universities with surplus lab equipment to donate it in support of science education.  We welcome other schools to follow the LIGHTS model and form their own LIGHTS group (see “Start Your Own”).  Join us in using  laboratory instrumentation to illuminate young minds!

For more information, please contact Michelle V. Joyce at mjoyce@nd.edu.