Me and My Environment through Foldscope

It was a blessing in disguise Dr. Christian Budich found an article about Foldscope while he was doing his usual literature research in his office. On that same day, he sent me the link to see if this is possible to do in Manila, Philippines. Back in Manila together with some friends, we created a volunteer organization called KIDS Club that aims to help create a safer and better community for the Filipino children. For a country where majority of its people strive to make both ends meet, most of the chilren do not have the opportunity to even touch a real microscope all their lives.

After seeing how the Foldscope project helped the children in Africa and India, I immediately sent an email to Dr. Manu Prakash for possible collaboration. To our surprise, it did not take a week before he sent us a positive response. When we received the sample kits, we were like excited kids opening our Christmas presents.

Doing the actual experiment with the children in Manila took us longer than what we targeted due to some challenges along the way. The target participants for this workshop are students who are non-readers. That is why we needed to make sure that the presentation and the instructions that we give must be easy to understand  and in Tagalog.  Finally after several months of planning and coordinating, Dr. Christian and I flew to Manila to conduct the Foldscope workshop.

Me and My Environment Poster
KIDS Club’s announcement poster

The Foldscope workshop was the first series of capacity building activities under the “Me and My Environment Program” of KIDS Club. This program aims to enhance the children’s awareness and appreciation of the environment particularly our nature through different disciplines like science and the arts. The workshop was held at Kasiglahan Village Elementary School in Rodrgiues, Rizal on April 30, 2016. It was participated in by 30 children (4-12 years old), some parents, and members of KIDS Club and Silid Aralan (our partner NGO).           

Dr. Christian is the scientist in our group hence, he was the one who gave a short background about the history and use of microscope. Despite the difficult terminologies and concepts presented, the children were so excited to listen because it is not everyday that they have a foreigner visitor at their school. Also, it was their first time to see pictures of microscopes.

Foldscope in Manila 2016
A brief introduction about microscopy

After the presentation, the children grouped themselves with three members each team. Members of KIDS Club were then asked to support one group as they try to construct their respective Foldscopes. Christian gave a step-by-step instruction on how to make the Foldscope and from time to time went around to make sure the all of them did it correctly.

Foldscope in Manila 2016
Children excited to start making their own Foldscopes
Foldscope in Manila 2016
Dr. Christian showing step-by-step instructions
Foldscope in Manila 2016
A little girl excited yet careful as she creates her own Foldscope
Foldscope in Manila 2016
A mom helping her child make the Foldscope

Once they have finished making the Foldscopes, both the young and adults felt proud and excited to use it! For the experiment, we used the onion skin as a sample. Each participant had their turn to see the sample using the Foldscope. All throughout this exercise, the room was filled with awe and giggles of curious children. The adults were as excited as the children because it was also their first time to do such experiments.

Foldscope in Manila 2016
Preparing their paper slides for the experiment
Foldscope in Manila 2016
Children and adults feeling amazed with the beauty of the onion skin through Foldscope
Foldscope in Manila 2016
Projected image of the onion skin through Foldscope

Afterwards, we then asked them to draw what they saw. It is very interesting to see that despite the same sample that they all have, they provided different interpretations of what they saw.

Foldscope in Manila 2016
Drawing the images they saw using the art kit given by KIDS Club
Foldscope drawing
Different interpretations of the onion skin drawn by the children

At the end of the workshop, the children got more excited when we informed them that we will leave the Foldscopes for them to use at school through their mentors from Silid Aralan, our partner NGO.

Overall, the workshop was a success. The children were introduced to microscopes and had an opportunity to do an experiment using Foldscope. Here are some of the messages/comments from the participants about Foldscope and the workshop:

“Microscopy is a very difficult subject to study. The presentation made it easier for me to understand what microscopy is and the hands-on workshop made it very interesting to learn more about the topic.” – Monica

“We were as excited as the children to try making the Foldscope and using it to see the onion skin sample. It was amazing how to see a different perspective of the things you somehow neglect every day.” – Evalyn

Foldscope in Manila 2016
Some of the Filipino children that participated together with Dr. Christian Budich showing their Foldscopes
Foldscope in Manila 2016
Workshop participants together with the members of KIDS Club and Silid Aralan

About the Author: Anna Budich is the founder of KIDS Club. It is a volunteer organization, composed of young professionals, that aims to help create safer and better communities for the children in the Philippines.

9 Comments Add yours

  1. Manu Prakash says:

    Dear @KidsClubPhilippines and @Anna,

    What a fantastic post and thorough documentation. Absolutely thrilled to read the same and excited to see how the kids reacted. Those sketches they made are precisely.

    We have been asking participants to document the work well; because it acts as an inspiration and direct material on others to engage the youth. Absolutely love how you captured the spirit of the workshop.

    Can’t wait to read more posts from the KidsClub. This would be the first group of Filipino kids.

    Are the photographs from the village workshop or the one in Manila.

    Welcome to the Foldscope community 🙂


    1. kidsclubphilippines says:

      Thank you Dr. Manu for the wonderful comment! The pictures are from the workshop held at Kasiglahan Village Elementary School in Rodgriguez, Rizal. It is a town near Metro Manila. The community is a relocation site for the families who used to illegally reside in Manila City.

  2. laksiyer says:

    Wow that is super inspiring. I have a quick question about organizing the workshop. How do you break down your session/s for the workshop? Do you have many breaks, or one long session? Would be great to share organization formats across the community.

    1. kidsclubphilippines says:

      Thank you! Because the workshop participants are from 4-12 years old, we needed to make sure that we have some ice breakers in between the presentations/activities. The workshop was divided into three parts: (1) powerpoint presentation about microscopy and Foldscope; (2) construction of the Foldscope units; and (3) experiments using Foldscopes and drawing. For 2 & 3 parts, we grouped the kids into three making sure that the young ones will be partnered with the older ones. We also assigned an adult member to guide them as they make their Foldscopes and conduct the experiment. We also have a snack break before they did the experiment.

  3. laksiyer says:

    These are really useful tips.

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