Foldscope Workshop in Masiphumelele

This past Saturday, I had the joy of bringing some Foldscopes to the Masiphumelele branch of Ikamva Youth near Cape Town, South Africa. Ikamva Youth is a non-profit dedicated to providing educational resources for high school students: they provide tutoring for their classes, career and college counseling, health/nutritional classes, and computer literacy training. They support around 1900 students across 14 branches in townships around South Africa. The non-profit began in 2003 and the Masi branch opened in 2010.

Seven students volunteered to do a hands-on Foldscope workshop: Zintathu, Aviwe, Nomvuyiso, Andiswa, Amanda, Linamandla, and Okuhle (all pictured below). They were enthusiastic, fun and attentive participants. We talked about why microscopes are useful, tried mounting and observing new samples on a pre-assembled Foldscope, and finally each student assembled her own Foldscope and started exploring independently.

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In terms of science education, many of these students have a good knowledge of textbook learning, but little hands-on experience with doing science, as the cost of materials has been prohibitive. They knew plenty about cellular theory, but were exhilarated to see plant cells under the Foldscope, the abstract made empirical for the first time. Here are Aviwe (left) and Amanda (right) holding up their Foldscopes to the sun, exploring leaves and flower petals in minute detail.

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As the seven students were working with their Foldscopes, other intrigued students stopped by. I’m excited to see the investigations that this this group will pursue with their scopes. Below are a handful of pictures snapped by the students on their first go-around.

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