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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.