On 7th January 2019, Foldscope Team of Wetland Research and Training Centre, Chilika Development Authority visited Balugaon High School, Balugaon, Odisha to educate the students of 9th standard on Seagrass biodiversity of Chilika and use of Foldscope. Around 150 students and teachers of school took an active participation in the interactive programme to know about the Foldscope and its application as a portable microscope. A detailed presentation on Chilika, a Ramsar site of India, its macrophyte diversity with special emphasis on seagrasses and their ecosystem services was delivered by Chilika Development Authority. The concept of frugal science and invention of foldscope was introduced to the participants, which was well received by students and teachers. Foldscope videos of live rotifer engulfing feed, oligochaete and its internal structure, spirogyra were demonstrated.
Balugaon is a NAC (Notified Area Council) located near Chilika which is in the process of transition of rural to urban. The town has an approximate population of 15,000 whose major economy depends on prawn and fish business. Around 50 percent of population are fishermen depend directly on Chilika. The fishermen and their children who live right next to the Chilika Lagoon never got a chance to see the microscopic world that also reside in Chilika. Fisherman, the resource user and their children must be better educated about this microscopic world because it plays a crucial role in sustaining the fishery and bird population of lake that provides economic security to these coastal communities. In resource constrained town like Balugaon where BALUGAON HIGH SCHOOL is located near Chilika within 25 minutes of walking distance, nobody has ever analyzed a sample from Chilika in their science class.
In such circumstances, Foldscope has plenty of opportunity to offer as a first portable microscope for the school children where costly microscope cannot be provided. These students can utilise the foldscope to understand the Chilika which is surrounding their village. Students were given hands on exposure on the use of foldscope and were allowed to use it by themselves. The benthic specimens collected from the seagrass meadows were kept for demonstration and use under foldscope. The entire programme was a success in creating awareness and sensitizing school children and their teachers about seagrasses and utility of Foldscope. The programme came to an end with a short round of quiz to evaluate the attentiveness of students and educational kits on Chilika were given to winning students. The programme saw a success as it magnified the curiosity of children and the teachers and made them realize that science can be done anytime anywhere and it could not just be confined to a class room.