Just imagine going from taking selfies to studying microbes in seconds, all with a device you carry around every day! We don’t need new innovations in technology for this to be a reality; if you have a cell phone, you have a microscope.

Image: A tip of a blade of grass through a phone microscope

Source: Ben Kendra // Flickr

While this may sound unbelievable, the steps to make your own microscope at home are pretty easy and well worth a try for any science lover.

Here is Anna Rothschild from the YouTube Channel Gross Science explaining a simple DIY for anybody with access to a smartphone!

We’ve paired this video with thought-provoking discussion questions perfect for the classroom in this touchstone on our education platform, EWCed!

Cool, right? It’s an awesome channel, so go check out more of their great content when you get the chance!

It turns out microscopes for smartphones aren’t just for looking at puddle water. Scientists at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory are doing phenomenal work. They have created a 3D printed microscope that clips on to your phone and costs a few cents to create. This simple technology can be applied to smartphones or tablets to create portable microscopes that can be used by everybody from first responders to school children.

Via: PNNLgov 2

Where can I get one? Well, if you (or a school you know) has access to a 3D printer, PNNL has made available the print files, as well as the assembly instructions.

What I find most incredible about the PNNL project is the accessibility of the technology. They took an object many of us have with us every day, and, with simple enhancements, made an entirely new world of discovery available to everyone. This is the beauty of the technological and manufacturing age we live in today. As more people have access to 3D printers, we allow for fields of technology, engineering, and science to be opened up to a broader range of people.

Image: A 3D Printer

Source: Maria Keays // Flickr

When we put the tools in people’s hands to inspire creativity and innovation, naturally, more brains, more ideas, more solutions will begin to appear.

If you want to see more about the way open source 3D printing is spurring on innovation, check out the Open Hand Project. They are dramatically reducing the cost of prosthetic hands and challenging the status quo of medical design.


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  1. “See Microbes with This DIY Phone Microscope.” YouTube. Gross Science, 4 Jan. 2016. Web. 26 Jan. 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UOHxNbxm-m4>.
  2. “3D Printed Microscope for Mobile Devices That Costs Pennies.” YouTube. PNNLgov, 15 Sept. 2014. Web. 26 Jan. 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QIh9dnwnt7Y>.

Liesl Ulrich-Verderber

CEO of Ever Widening Circles, Founder of EWCed

Since 2015, Liesl has been a writer, editor, and is now the CEO at Ever Widening Circles. She is a life-long camera-toting traveler, a global story seeker, and an aspiring—but more often root-tripping—outdoor enthusiast. She can be found on Instagram @Liesl.UV