Foldscope excitement at ZPHS Vattinagulapally

Zilla Parishad High School (ZPHS) Vattinagulapally is a semi-rural local government school on the outer fringes of the city of Hyderabad, Telangana. I have been visiting this school as a volunteer in the weekend outreach program of TIFR Hyderabad, since July this year. Classes at Vattinagulapally are fairly small, partly because of drop-outs after elementary…

Life in an ‘Organic pond’ – Part 2

Let’s explore more of the life in an ‘organic’ pond, continuing with the same water sample that we investigated for the last post. I now noticed a larva, about 5 mm long, swimming in the water. It was moving very fast, but I patiently followed it with a dropper and was finally able to pick…

Life in an ‘Organic pond’ – Part 1

After my experience and learning with the Dal Lake water sample, I have been constantly on the lookout for water ecosystems. Recently, I visited my sister’s home at the ‘Organo Eco-Habitat’ in Hyderabad, where there is an artificial pond. I collected water from a corner of the pond, in which I found an insect wing…

Mysteries of Dal Lake, Kashmir – Part 2

After seeing the diverse flora in Part I, here I share the findings on the microbes in the water from Dal Lake. We thought we could find a dense composition of organisms if the water could be centrifuged. Sayantan, a graduate student in biology at TIFR Hyd helped me with this. We put 50 ml…

Mysteries of Dal Lake, Kashmir – Part 1

It all started when my friend got a water sample from Dal Lake, Srinagar. The ecosystem of Dal is ecologically rich with 117 recorded species of hydrophytes and phytoplankton. Here are some views of this beautiful Lake: wonder what we can find inside it, under the Foldscope! In my first observation, I saw many microbes…

Microbial diversity in a paddy field water sample – Part 2

DIATOMS, ROTIFERS and SOMEONE UNIQUE The water drop sample from the paddy field further showed moving diatoms and rotifers. One particular organism puzzled me. At first, from its bifurcated tail, I thought it was a rotifer. But on better focusing, I observed its cilia. Was it a ciliate? It seemed too big for a ciliate….

Microbial diversity in a paddy field water sample – Part 1

Hello Everyone! My explorations with the Foldscope constantly enrich me with interesting experiences of the beautiful and dynamic microbial world, and water samples from different places add a special excitement to my life! My family members know this, so recently my nephew gifted me some water from a paddy field (see Image 1). This water…

A water ecosystem in my home!

Being a plant lover, I have many potted plants in my balcony garden. I water them regularly and the excess water drains into trays below each pot. One day I observed some white cottony patches on the surface of the drained water from one of the pots. The patches looked very much like the downy…

Still seeking the Tardigrade!

Hello friends! My quest to find a Tardigrade led to an exploration the ‘Dagad Phool (Kalpasi)’ ecosystem, with lots of interesting organisms except, no Tardigrades! Recently, on a family trip to Singapore I had a wonderful time with my grandchildren. But everywhere I went, along with my grandchildren, I watched out for lichens and mosses,…

Is it Magic? De-mystifying the Foldscope

Recently in a workshop we probed into students’ curiosity related with their experiences with Foldscopes. One particular question, asked by a student of Grade 9, sparked a lively discussion in the workshop. The question was simple yet striking: “Is there any magic in the Foldscope?“, the student asked. She was perhaps curious to know how…

Curiosity and the Foldscope

Our Foldscope journey with the TSWREIS schools began in October 2017, with the ‘Atoms to Amoeba’ workshop at TIFR Hyderabad. Over the next few months we (i.e. several students and volunteers working with TIFR Hyderabad’s Science Education and Outreach program) followed up in three schools and ourselves messed around with the old Foldscopes. In mid 2018, with…

Exploring the ‘Dagad Phool’ ecosystem

It started with my wondering about the pictures of tardigrades on the new foldscopes. Called the “world’s most indestructible creatures”, I learnt that these hardy champions survive for 30 years without food or water. They have endured extremely cold, irradiated journeys, riding on the outside of space-ships… and you can find them just by soaking…

Let’s investigate the ‘case’!

Hello Everyone! The ‘case’ I am investigating in this article actually starts with an insect.  It was in my washroom, a small irregularly shaped creature moving up the wall.  I was curious and got my LED magnifying glass to watch its movement. My first impression was that it must be an insect emerging from its cocoon….

Comparative view of monocot and dicot leaf surfaces

Hello once again! This is is the final instalment of my vacation project with the foldscope, working on the leaf surfaces of monocots and dicots. Here is a consolidated view of the different plants, whose leaf surfaces  I observed through the foldscope. Working with the foldscope on nine different plants for about three days was…

Leaf surfaces of dicots

As promised, here is the second part of my  garden expedition at my sister’s place, in which I explored the leaf surfaces of  dicot and monocot plants.  I selected four dicot plants to observe stomata: tomato (Solanum lycopersicum), coatbuttons (Tridax procumbens), spinach (Spinacia oleracea) and chilli peppers (Capsicum annuum). Here is a comparative figure for…

Leaf surfaces of monocots

My sister’s home near Hyderabad has a beautiful garden with a number of  ornamental  and vegetable plants.  While visiting her over a few days I decided to investigate the leaf stomata of monocot and dicot plants.  In this post I will tell you about the monocots. Among monocot plants I found Banana (Musa), Sugarcane (Saccharum),…

Curiosity meets the culinary!

Leaves of the Curry tree (Murraya koenigii) are a key ingredient of many Indian dishes.  While handling curry leaves in my kitchen, I noticed some brownish spots under the leaves (Fig. 1). This triggered my curiosity and I observed these spots under the foldscope.                   The brown…

Foldscopes on the go! A follow-up workshop for TSWREIS teachers

Following our earlier two day workshop in June, teachers in 10 residential schools of three districts of Telangana introduced foldscopes into their Grade 8 and 9 classrooms. We kept in touch with them, some long-distance and the nearby ones in weekend visits. There were a few unexpected starting hiccups, that we shared in the last…

Oops! There is something wrong with my foldscope!

Does the title of this blog sound familiar from any of your recent experiences with foldscopes?  It just might, if you are an enthusiastic foldscope user (like me) who wants to put a foldscope in the hands of every school kid.  Perhaps you recently conducted a teachers’ workshop and then let loose the foldscopes into…

Zooplankton in a water puddle

It was a foot-deep puddle near the boundary of our large housing complex. For months no-one gave it a second look — till its wealth of gliding, writhing animal life was revealed by our foldscopes. Only then we found out that the water in this permanent puddle came from a rusty, leaking one-inch metal pipe…

Moss in rainwater

After a few monsoon showers, the water in the large rainwater pool looked quite clear, showing no obvious sign of life, even under the foldscope. But standing in a bottle over 18 days, it got steadily cloudier. Our first surprise came when, at the foldscope workshop, teachers from TSWREIS Chilkur school put a drop of…

Mold on curd (homemade yogurt)!!!

Mold on curd, is that even possible? That was my first reaction when I first saw it happen, and I bet many of you would have reacted similarly. Let us walk you through the whole sequence of events as they happened. However let me clarify, I wasn’t looking for mold on curd, it just happened. After my previous post…

A small step – Foldscopes reach teachers

The lesson for June may be patience. As hundreds of newly recruited teachers get counselled, assigned schools and trained; and hundreds more working teachers anticipate their transfer orders to new schools, bright and creative minds mill around, waiting. This week, just days after they joined school, we held a workshop to introduce foldscopes to teachers…

Check your cheek cells

Foldscope workshop at TIFR Hyderabad June 19-20, 2018   Deep down in the center of cheek  cells, the ‘wise’ nucleus appeared through the  foldscope, to give a surprise visit for the viewers. The cells are irregular in shape and have the nucleus at the center. K. T. Veronica, TSWREIS Gowlidoddi These are our foldscope numbers:…

A Day in TIFR

Foldscope workshop at TIFR Hyderabad June 19-20, 2018 Sharada Haritha Foldscope ID Numbers: 000207EAA812, 00020CD0BE1C, 000284DDDE15, 00020E40738C, 0002050BFFDF, 000246BEACDD, 00020F8783D5, 00024E2E4719, 00022A696A85, 0002236629B9, 00026F864341, 00022E951CC1, 0002068A5D50, 0002E06E7868, 00024A310B26, 000275D93994, 00022A6964FC, 0002110CFC29, 000227DB1712, 00022656B03D, 0002976B2C1C, 00026E3A1B01.

Observation of stomata in Little hogweed (Portulaca oleracea)

Foldscope workshop at TIFR Hyderabad,June 19-20, 2018 We observed the Portulaca leaf which is a dicot, leaf arrangment is alternate We observed guard cells. In this plant the stomata are paracytic in nature i.e. stomata have subsidiary cells parallel to the opening between the guard cells. Archana, Geetha Kumari, Rajeswari, TSWREIS  Dharmaram B. Our Foldscope Id…

Onion peel of outer epidermis and inner epidermis

Foldscope workshop at TIFR Hyderabad, June 19-20, 2018 A. Durga & V. Sravanthi, TSWREIS Mahindra Hills 0002DE92B795 00020F209C88 0002DF026902 00022E8ABF01 000201CCBBC8 000204F47A4B 00020B0650D4 00025561AFF9 0002E19FEA1B 000225B842D9 000225702339 0002DF2D32BA 0002DCD02445 0002C13B3BFB 00021287227D 00022CA412EC 00020A884D000FC 000206FA4F17 000212F487B4 0002E0CD4D82 0002C1A2551F 00029C1B6A13

Algae in pond water

Foldscope workshop at TIFR Hyderabad June 19-20, 2018   Thin strands of filamentous algae are seen in the above picture. Live diatoms and micro arthropods are seen moving actively around  the algae (may be in search of food). We are not sure about the name of the algae, whether they are Ulothrix or Oedogonium. Can…

Observation of pollen grains in Hibiscus

Foldscope workshop at TIFR Hyderabad June 19-20, 2018 We observed the pollen grains of Hibiscus rosasinensis, which belongs to Malvaceae family. The pollen grains are very clear and olive yellow in colour. The surface of pollen colporate (having apertures which combine a rounded pore and a groove) having numerous round tip spines. E. Sreenivas (JL in…