When I first heard that Foldscope was launching a Kickstarter to make these amazing origami paper microscopes available to the public, I put 2 different questions up on several of my social media sites:

I’m thrilled out of my mind to be writing a post about this new good quality, “disposable”, CHEAP compound (uses microscope slides) microscope. Oh yeah – it’s 140X magnification – you can see bacteria

What would you look at if you had such a thing? It’s practically indestructible (can step on it, throw it off a building, run it through the washing machine), it’s about the size of a 3X5 card and fits in your pocket. Runs on watch battery or just held up to a light.

  • If you are a “career-biologist” – How would you use this to teach people about the wonders of science and our everyday (microscopic) world?
  • If you are not a career-biologist – Just wondering what would be interesting to YOU. Is there anything you’d use it for?


The feedback was AMAZING! Check out the suggestions and excitement:

From the biologists look at:

  • Take my kids on a TARDIGRADE hunt
  • Pond water, leaf litter, whatever is around me
  • Blood and fecal smears with parasites and their eggs
  • Bird parasites like mites and lice
  • “pocket web MD” myself, my dog, and the family
  • Could be an important tool for vet offices and field doctors
  • Termite guts
  • Water trapped in a bromeliad
  • Look at different foods – onion and lettuce are a fun start
  • Fish and sea urchin development could be followed in real time by my students
  • Look at velcro, money, photos, paper, and prints
  • Take them to Uganda for students to look at their own well water
  • Take into prisons for teaching science since there are no glass slides.
  • Forensics class: look at slides with human hair from different ethnic groups, different animal hairs, etc…
  • Look at osteons to estimate human age by their size.
  • Test the 5-minute rule
  • Do a mouth swipe to see your bacteria and cheek cells.
  • Look at the hooklets on a bird feather and tell students about how birds fly by trapping air beneath their wings.
  • Show the farmers I work with pests on their plants
  • Girl scouts! Show the girls aquatic critters
  • Look at hang nails, dryer lint, and BUGS!
  • “Carry it in my purse for quick science lessons, along with slides of protists, thread, pollen, bacteria…. where can I get this?”
  • Use it in outreach to schools to show them the chromosomes in salivary glands of flies
  • Use for my field project on vaginal infections in Guatemala.
  • Do saliva ferning to help women avoid or achieve pregnancy.
  • Give to global health partners to aid in diagnoses

Non-biologist “everyday” people thought

  • Give it to my 8-year-old grandson for his adventures and Cub Scout troop
  • Home school!
  • Look at things on my farm
  • Use it in our school garden
  • Start with my skin and then look at plants and insects
  • Middle school classes could use for citizen science type projects and then skype with a class in another country to compare results!
  • Take it on walks, the garden, and hikes for my 4-year-old
  • Flowers, plants, insects, spiders, soil, tree bark, seeds, leaves,hair, textiles, water samples, food, manufactured goods, skin, wood, and lots of other stuff.
  • Look at boogers and other bodily secretions with my 3-year-old
  • After following the instgram account @pondlife_pondlife, I’d look at random bodies of water in the urban environment
  • Look at yogurt and probiotics, swab germy places, look at water samples

I’ve had a lot of fun looking at everything from the algae in my terrarium (I found diatoms AND a tardigrade!) and aquarium water, to onion skin, salt, flour, insect legs, hair, a sprinkle of soil (lots of quartz and mica was beautiful). I was shocked at what you could see, even from a slide made of cardstock and TAPE! I ordered the teacher’s kit and can’t wait until August 2017.


Red onion skin cells!

I’ve heard about people buying kits for:

  • scout troups
  • school’s out day camps
  • science camps
  • science outreach
  • keep the kids entertained (ooh – hand a kid a foldscope, not a cell phone when they are bored!)
  • classrooms (all ages!)
  • STEM nights at school
  • Donate several kits to many schools in honor of their child!

Let me know what you would examine with Foldscope and/or why you bought your kit!

I’ve also heard about people adopting some of the schools and classrooms that are up on the Foldscope donation site. What a great gift for a teacher, scientist, or other hard to shop for person for the holidays! Give the gift of education and exploration to a classroom in that person’s honor. Team Foldscope has excellent video tutorials for training yourself. I’ve been thrilled to work through them. Here’s the project I’m working on this weekend – using the Foldscope in “camera lucida” mode so Jac, and maybe mama? can draw some microscopic critters!

The inventors of Foldscope will do a LiveStream tomorrow.

Finally – take a look at Microcosmos – the community where Foldscope users share their journeys. Here are some of my favorites.


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