An Impromptu Foldscope Workshop at TCIS, Hyderabad

The wild ivy grows wherever it pleases, said Marty Rubin. Although we have conveniently taken this quote from his dystopian novel, ‘The Boiled Frog Syndrome’, we have figured out that our excitement is in no way any less — it grows wherever it pleases, whenever it pleases, and also however it pleases. To feed this ever-growing Ivy of curiosity and excitement, we at TCIS Hyderabad organized an impromptu Foldscope Workshop on 17th September, 2019 by Akshatha Nayak, who is a foldscope superuser and was visiting Hyderabad.

Prepping for the Workshop!

Just like the wild ivy, we too have branches of our excitement spread far and wide — intertwining with other excited people from nearby places. The workshop saw people converging in, not only from TCIS, but also professors and students from the University of Hyderabad (UoH), independent foldscope users/explorers, and teachers and students from Zilla Parishad High School, Vattinagulapally. Most of the people were either being exposed to a hands-on approach to using the foldscope for the first time, or had been only recently figuring out the magic of the microcosmos.

Ashalatha – one of our most resourceful foldscope users, along with other curious minds
Some of the workshop participants (from Left to Right) – D. Chandrika with students from ZPHS and their teacher Ms. Shantakumari, Nitin Paul, Jayashree Ramadas, Akshatha Nayak, Dr. Sudipta Saraswati, Bishal Kumar Dey and Ashalatha
Superuser Akshatha demonstrates the foldscope to Ms. Shantakumari, Dr. Joby Joseph and Dr. Sudipta Saraswati
Ms. Shantakumari, a teacher at ZPHS, Vattinagulapally with her super-skilled and super-curious students

The workshop started in a rather unusual way — the science education group of TCIS decided to join Akshatha in a walk around the campus to collect possible samples to be used during the workshop. Rainy days in Hyderabad, coupled with the scenic beauty made that walk an integral refresher, and also successfully piqued the curiosity of the participants.

While the workshop was going on (pictures taken during the workshop using a foldscope coupled to Ashalatha’s trusted iPad are attached at the end of the post), we also realised that given the opportunity to explore by themselves, there is nothing that children cannot do. The grade 8 students of ZPHS, Vattinagulapally, who had only been introduced to the foldscope recently, used the opportunity of the workshop to fully explore the infinite possibilities underlying the microcosmos. They instantly started making slides, and visualizing the same. Curiosity and imagination can make one travel through galaxies; these, coupled with an accessible microscope can invert the dimensions of the galaxies travelled!

Converting the discussion area of TCIS to the Workshop dias — curious minds interacting!

So what did we visualize in the workshop? The following pictures are taken using the foldscope during the workshop!

Algae in water from Dal Lake, Kashmir
Drosophila antennae and mechanosensory organ – the round structure is antennae which is used by the humble fruitflies from olfaction (the sense of smell) and the hairy filamentous organ allows the animal to sense mechanical stimuli
Fibres from a cotton cloth
Stomata from lower epidermis of a dicot leaf (Ixora sp.)
Fine hairs on the Drosophila wing

— Sayantan

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