This past summer I had a pleasure of meeting Prof. Manu Prakash and getting a tour of his wonderful lab at Stanford University. Our conversation about the importance of resourcefulness, open-source knowledge, and accessibility of scientific tools inspired me organize an outreach event in my hometown in Serbia.
Brainstorming with my friends from high school that are currently undergraduate students at the Biology department at University of Novi Sada, we came up with a mini microbiology lab workshop that my friends ran in a local elementary school, “Djordje Natosevic”.
117 fourth grade students attended their 5 workshops, the goal of which was to introduce the importance of studying the micro-scale organisms through the example of beneficial versus harmful bacteria. The students took specimens from their palm, phone, door handle, and various extents of purified water. The students then examined them on both the traditional microscope as well as the foldscope, sparking a discussion about the large difference in complexity and portability of the two devices.
This discussion was then continued in the direction that introduced the necessity for wide access to scientific tools such as this, that enables us to unlock conversations about the world we would otherwise never have access to.
As expected, the students at our workshop absolutely loved assembling and using the foldscope, and we’re really looking forward to hopefully contributing to even greater awareness of the tool that creates an environment for discovery beyond research labs, in our daily lives.