“Science is simply the word we use to describe a method of organizing our curiosity” – Tim Minchin
To most scientists in the broader field of life sciences a microscope is pretty much as “normal” as having a stove in your kitchen. But hey let’s face it, scientists make up a very small percentage of the world’s population. Which means that most people have never used, or maybe even seen, a real microscope. The few of us who is fortunate to use microscopes on a regular basis, is probably guilty of downscaling the real wonder it. Come on, science is just too freaking amazing to not share it with everyone!
So a challenge was presented to our postgraduate group; use the foldscope to show someone, who has never used a microscope, how it works and what you can see with it. At first, most of us were sceptical about this makeshift, cardboard contraption – I know I was. Would some random person really be excited by this folded piece of paper? To my surprise – even more than theirs – they were absolutely bowled over! They were amazed that this paper contraption was actually a real microscope. Once curiosity was sparked, everyone had something in mind that they wanted to look at. So we collected a whole bunch of things we could find and prepared some slides. We tried leaves, petals, insects, fungi, soil and fruit. Some things looked really cool under the microscope and others did not work so well. One of the highlights was the observation of hairs on the legs of a fly. As cell biology is my specific interest, I tried to show them something on cellular level. The closest we got to observing cells, was in the moth wings. Using the foldscope we could see a mixture of pigmented and unpigmented cells making up the wing – very cool indeed! Everyone left the exploration with a little curiosity and I am pretty sure they will be back for more.
There is no doubt in my mind: the foldscope is a nifty little tool to not only spark interest and curiosity in science, but also a mean microscope that really can bring small things to life . And that’s no exaggeration!