El Dorado High School students are seeing the world of microorganisms through a 50-cent origami-like paper microscope.
The newly developed Foldscope, a paper microscope, is the creation of Dr. Manu Prakash and his team from Stanford University. El Dorado is one a few high schools in the country to be given use of the microscope for free. The only stipulation: students have to document their findings on Prakash’s worldwide Foldscope community forum.
“I saw Dr. Prakash’s Foldscope presentation on the internet,” said Leticia Cortez, a microbiology teacher at El Dorado. “I thought it would be a great educational tool for my students.”
The thin, paper microscope is used during the students’ science lab. Findings are placed on the microscope with a simple piece of tape and a flashlight, like that on a cellular phone, is used to see the results. It also can be connected to a cell phone with a magnet. This allows students to take photographs or videos of microorganisms.
The student response has been incredible, Cortez said. She sees the tool as another way for students to get interested in science. The hope is that one day every child will have the tool in their science class, she said.
El Dorado senior, Thomas Hayes, was skeptical at first. There was no way something as flimsy as a paper microscope could do anything, he said.
“But it’s awesome,” Hayes said. “We get to see all kinds of cool microorganisms from rain, pond water or whatever we use.”
His lab partner, Sabrina Bernal, thinks a small, simple tool like this is valuable and opens the gateway for students to be more into science or a medical career.
Prakash’s goal is to deliver one million microscopes worldwide. He wants to reach students and would love for every child to have one in their back pocket. He is excited El Dorado students are part of the Foldscope community.
“If you learn to use the tool well, you can watch individual bacteria swim; how exciting is that,” he said in an email to Cortez. “We encourage students to be the ‘owners’ of Foldscope; and use it with smartphones they might already have in a daily life context – and not just in classes.”
For Cortez, the whole experience has been eye opening. She likes that her classes have been involved since the beginning of the new invention, she said.
“I was nervous with excitement,” Cortez said. “We were one of the first high schools to get the microscopes. And now seeing the impact it will have on education, science and students, I find it rewarding.”
To view photos of the event, click HERE.