by Foldscope Team
The relationship between Foldscope Instruments and Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District (Cy-Fair ISD, Texas) began one year ago during the pandemic. At the time, Cy-Fair ISD was looking for creative ways to engage teachers and students with science and found Foldscope. One year later and approximately 3,600 Foldscopes distributed, here we are as a team deploying Foldscope training services for middle and high school teachers. The goal is to prepare Cy-Fair teachers to incorporate Foldscopes as their newest classroom tool to excite and engage students in STEM learning.
Written by Hala Benmoussa - Foldscope’s Project Manager
On the first day of the workshop, the Foldscope Fierce Five (Paola, Katie, Melissa, Hala, and Holly) walked the halls of the Cypress-Fairbanks High School, in awe at the hard work and dedication of the administrative staff and teachers. Each preparing to start the school year with a full suite of technology, skills, and knowledge ready to be shared with their students. Foldscope has become a driver for Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District’s philosophy of “be curious” by magnifying teacher and students' curiosity in the classroom!
We started the first day of the workshop working with high school teachers in learning the fundamentals of the Foldscope functionality, including slide preparation, viewing methods, and classroom applications.
Administrators prepared what one would describe as a Microorganism zoo for each teacher to explore - ranging from Tardigrades, Amoeba, Rotifers, Paramecium, and many more. Additionally, there was a station set up for teachers to prepare samples of various food items such as a fish, green pepper, onions, and leafy greens! Each of these stations became a playground for each of us to explore under the Foldscope.
Once teachers mastered the fundamentals of the Foldscope and observed the living micro world under their Foldscope they found it hard to pull themselves away! Each sample presented new observations and discoveries.
Collectively we spotted over 6 tardigrades, a dozen rotifers, and other organisms. It was most interesting to sit back and observe these microorganisms' behaviors and characteristics. The team wanted to experiment and observe how organisms interact with each other, so we mixed a Tardigrade water sample and a Rotifer water sample on our slide. Melissa, our Marketing Specialist was able to spot 4 tardigrades and several rotifers zipping and wiggling about. We decided to keep the slide and observe the tardigrades and rotifers over the training period.
Written by Holly Stuart - Foldscope’s Education Specialist
On day two of the workshop we worked exclusively with middle school teachers and we were able to demo the Foldscope and spend a lot of time learning how to prep a perfect sample and discuss how Foldscope is best used in the classroom. This was a more structured session than the free exploration that high school teachers were given the day before.
We went over the basics of the Foldscopes (parts, function, and use) and then scaffolded the slide preparation instruction. We started with prepared slides and taught the teachers how to focus the image and how to couple their phones to the Foldscope. Once everyone felt confident in how to use the foldscope with prepared slides, the teachers went to the stations around the classroom with the different specimens and they prepared their own slides to see what they could discover.
Their enthusiasm while they were exploring was contagious and they began sharing ways that they could use Foldscopes in their classrooms. The session ended with a 30 minute Q&A on how to effectively incorporate Foldscopes into their regular instruction starting on day 1 with students. While there were some teachers who said that initially they were nervous about using a new piece of equipment with students right away, after hearing about ways to make it less intimidating for both teachers and students, they were more excited about getting their students to use them.
The team also checked back in on the microorganism zoo experiment slide to find that all of the tardigrades had died, but the rotifers still remained. We found that most of the microorganisms that remained hung around this matter patch to feed off of.
Written by Melissa Leventhal - Foldscope’s Marketing Specialist
Our last day was a shorter as we only had one training with middle school teachers in contrast to the multiple sessions held the prior days. It was a quieter morning in the beginning which gave us the opportunity to play around with our Foldscopes and check back in on our little science experiment!
By the end of the session we noticed that the microorganism zoo experiment slide that was once bustling with life, became almost completely empty by day three. A tiny microorgaism was the only thing that remained.
Similar to the past two days, we took the teachers through the complete Foldscope experience which included Foldscope fundamentals, viewing methods, slide preparation and classroom application discussions.
We had many teachers who were bustling with excitement when stumbling upon their newest Foldscope discovery which included a variety of samples like pollen, hair, tardigrades and many other micropets!
We concluded the session with a 30 minute application discussion. During this we discussed more ideas on how Foldscope can be utilized in the classroom from day one and how it is a great tool to help students study on a micro level.
It was a pleasure for us to come out and teach the Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District the magic of Foldscope. We can’t wait to see what these teachers are going to do with their Foldscopes in their classrooms this year and many years to come!