How do we open up a world of experiences for students while improving the quality of life for millions around the globe?

The answer may lie in future of paper microscopes.

Stanford biophysicist and paper microscope developer Manu Prakash believes,

“Information only becomes meaningful when you have an experience.” 1

And his mission is to bring the experience of seeing the world at a microscopic level to every child on the planet.

A classroom of students using the Foldscope

Foldscope in Masai
Source: Stanford

For students all across the globe, the world of microscopy is far outside the realm of experience. The costly barrier to entry of expensive microscopes makes exploring the microscopic world out of the question.

These same limitations to access are also felt in the medical world. Without access to microscopes, the diagnosis and treatment of many diseases is far more complicated in the developing world.

Into this void steps Manu Prakash and the Foldscope team.

The Foldscope is a nearly indestructible paper microscope that costs less than one dollar to build and has the power to revolutionize the way people are educated, diagnosed, and treated around the globe.

Here is Prakash from the stage of National Geographic Live explaining the power of this microscopy revolution…

Beyond the obvious medical implications, the Foldscope offers a unique opportunity for students to explore the world around them. When you put the right tools in the hands of the curious kids who face unique problems on a daily basis, the solutions you get to those problems are opened up to a world of innovative thought.

More on the Foldscope…

There are a lot of incredible talks and interviews with Manu Pradesh about the Foldscope. If you want to learn all there is to know about this project you can head over to the Foldscope website for more!

As I watched his talk, I wanted to understand more about how this fascinating piece of technology works. Here is a short video about the science behind the design of the Foldscope…

Some of you may have recognized the lens ball from an article we wrote a while back with information on how to make a DIY microscope with your phone. For those that are interested in microscopy but don’t want to wait for the Foldscope to become commercially available, you can head over there to get started!

Beyond the Scope…

Finally, I want to leave you with a cool project that has stemmed out of the Foldscope.

It’s called Microcosmos, and it is a place where Foldscope users post images of things they are looking at using their paper microscopes. The site is really quite interesting and gives you a lot of ideas for things you yourself can look into if you have access to a microscope (or your new DIY phone microscope). For any educators out there, you can search the images by subject if you are looking for inspiration for the classroom!

Hopefully, we can all continue to foster curious minds and creative connections in future generations!

Stay beautiful & keep laughing!

-Liesl

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Notes:

  1. Prakash, Manu. “How Cheap Paper Microscopes Are Changing Lives.”National Geographic. National Geographic Live, 2015. Web. 15 Mar. 2016. <http://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/ng-live/150908-prakash-microscope-lecture-nglive?source=relatedvideo>.
  2. Prakash, Manu. “How Cheap Paper Microscopes Are Changing Lives.”National Geographic. National Geographic Live, 2015. Web. 15 Mar. 2016. <http://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/ng-live/150908-prakash-microscope-lecture-nglive?source=relatedvideo>.
  3. “Bending Light with a New Kind of Microscope | Science Spotlight.”YouTube. KQED QUEST, 7 May 2015. Web. 15 Mar. 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WwLBw13NKNU>.

Liesl Ulrich-Verderber

COO Ever Widening Circles

Liesl is a camera-toting traveler, a global story seeker, and an aspiring—but more often floundering—yoga lover. She can be found on Instagram @Liesl.UV