Balugaon is a NAC (Notified Area Council) located just next to Chilika. In a coastal town like Balugaon, the fisherman and their children have lived for generations and are dependent on the lake for their livelihood i.e. the fish catches. But what they are not aware is that sustainable fishery depends on many other microscopic lives that are not visible to them. Educating fisherman and their next-generation about Chilika and how its biodiversity can be conserved is the first step in ensuring that their livelihoods and lake biodiversity is secured for many more years.
The Foldscope team of Wetland Research and Training Centre, Chilika Development Authority, Balugaon in their pursuit for raising awareness about the sustainable management and conservation of natural resources of Chilika Lagoon visited Balugaon College, on 6th March 2019. This College was located right on Chilika shoreline and has strength of around 300 students of B.Sc. (Zoology, Botany, Physics). The College represents a true resource constrained organization where the use of Microscope is very limited to just one practical class weekly. It is somewhat unfortunate that being so close to a wetland of international importance i.e. Chilika, they never had an opportunity to explore the microscopic world that is hidden in the lake. In such circumstances, Foldscope has plenty of opportunity to offer as a first portable microscope for the College students where costly microscope cannot be provided. These students can utilise the foldscope to understand the microscopic biodiversity of apart from fishes, birds, and dolphins of Chilika.
The introduction of Foldscope as a personal microscope could reduce the burden of college and facilitate the practical driven learning of science. The workshop was held with the introductory presentation about Chilika, Seagrasses, Foldscope and proper utility of Foldscope in the field of Biology. The group of listener constituted around 25 students from Botany, Zoology and Physics background. Other than the students around 10 teachers took active participation in the programme. The next session included teaching them about the preparation of Foldscope, preparation of slide, mounting of sample, analysing the sample under Foldscope and recording the interaction in their cellular device. The workshop came to an end with the hope that it sensitized the students and teacher both about foldscope and its application in biodiversity assessment and further encouraged them to use these portable paper microscopes in their practical classes and unravel the wonders of Chilika.