First of all I thank Manu sir and his Foldscope team for providing me a wonderful opportunity to conduct this skill development workshop. I’m Dr. S. Sharmila, Assistant Professor in Department of Botany,Vellalar College for Women, Erode, Tamilnadu. When I attended the foldscope orientation workshop on 17th April 2018 at International Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, New Delhi, I learned about foldscope instrument and its usage thoroughly. At that time of learning I was excited and thrilled.

In connection with the workshop, we had organized a workshop entitled “One Day Skill Development Workshop on Foldscope Assembly and its Usage” to the students of  Government Higher Secondary School, Vijayamangalam, Erode district, Tamil nadu on   8th June 2018. The school was established in the year 1962 and it is located in rural area. It consists of grades from 6th standard to 12th standard. Tamil is the medium of instructions in this school. The main concept of workshop was promoting science to higher level mainly focused by the new paper based microscope, created from simple paper and lens can be easily created at home and it offers wide scope of students who are studying science. Mostly the higher education students coming from rural areas know only about compound microscope. So we have introduced foldscope to the student community. It is really a new and useful research tool to the students.

We have introduced this skill development foldscope workshop to 11th and 12th standard student of rural areas who studies in the above said school. It has been an interesting and challenging experience for me.

Dr. S. Sharmila, Principal investigator explained about conventional microscope & Foldscope

We started our session with power point presentation for easy understanding and played ayoutube videos on ‘How to assemble the foldscope’.

Students watching Foldscope tutorials interestingly

The students were thought about assembling foldscope. Foldscope was totally new to them. They never heard it before. So, they were excited and thrilled but also a little nervous at this new endeavor.  They assembled the pieces and tried to peep through it become well – versed with its usage. They become very much interested to assemble it.

11th standard students assembling Foldscope on their own interest

We started the program with basics of botany and also explained about sectioning methodology. My project assistants Ms. E.K. Ramya and Ms. S. Mownika gave wonderful Hands on training to the students about taking plant section with the help of foldscope.

My scholars giving hands on training to the students
Students practicing in taking section

The plant samples were collected from in around school campus by own interest of students. Students were excited and observed various anatomical views like Tribulus terrestris, Andrographis paniculata and some pond water samples. One of the student, Ms. P. Sangeetha who studies 11th standard has observed the transverse section of Tribulus terrestris. The section was so clear. She also studied the anatomical characters of such plant under foldscope. The girl was so excited to view the first picture in foldscope that was taken by her.

Viewing plant anatomy section through foldscope under normal sunlight

Anatomy – 1

Tribulus terrestris Linn.

            The students’ first anatomical section was taken from Tribulus terrestris Linn. commonly called as Puncture vine belongs to the family Zygophyllaceae.

Habit of Tribulus terrestris Linn.
Transverse section of Tribulus terrestris taken by 11th standard student

Important characters:

  • Plant is annual herb with yellow in flower color
  • The stem is coated with epidermis covered with thick cuticle
  • Numerous, large groups of sclerenchyma cells are located against the vascular bundles.
  • Ring of vascular tissues

Pollen grains of Tribulus genus

Pollen morphology was studied by another 12th standard student Mr. S. Sivakumar. Students were also excited to see an oval shaped multiple pollen grains under foldscope background. They enjoyed on their faces after assembling, viewing samples, clicking photos on mobile phone attached to foldscope was the highlight of this program.

This is natural unstained pic…. captured by the school students
The same section was stained with safranin counter stain and viewed under the foldscope
  • Exine is thicker and the endine is very thin with very small globular elements
C.S of Ovary in Tribulus was tried by 12th standard student

Anatomy – 2

Andrographis paniculata Nees.

Andrographis paniculata Nees. commonly called as   Nila – Vembu belongs to the family Acanthaceae.

Small twig of Andrographis paniculata Nees.
Blooming Flower in Twig

T.S of Andrographis paniculata stem – Foldscope image taken by 11th std student

Important characters:

  • S shows dense collenchyma strands at the four angles of the stem
  • Solitary sclerids are clearly noticed in the middle. Xylem is very prominent and occupies the major portion of the stem

Pollen grains Andrographis paniculata

Just a try pic of pollen grains in Andrographis paniculata captured by my scholars

Important characters:

  • Pollen grains are radially symmetrical

I’m sure that the whole day was an innovation day. The students were asked to submit their feedbacks in written mode and also support video clippings. At the end of the session we go throw the feedbacks randomly. I’m sure that the workshop fulfilled all the objectives in positive and creative manner.

Students writing their feedbacks

This was an excellent day for all of us. Gradually I will upload all our observation in individual post. At this juncture I would like to acknowledge Department of Biotechnology and Foldscope team for allocating fund to carry over this skill development foldscope assembly and its usage workshop. Definitely the workshop ignited spark among rural students and also enrich the usage of this research tool in scientific field.  We are eagerly waiting for the day that each basic biology practicals in school and college level should use this Foldscope as a research tool to update science among young minds.

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