University of Texas at Austin, TX (Contact: Grace Kago)
Grace Kago is doctoral student at University of Texas at Austin and also serves as the Head of Partnerships at ‘Under the Microscope’, a science engagement initiative that is based in Nairobi, Kenya. This organization recently did a project that used Foldscopes to supplement science lessons in a school located in a slum settlement in Nairobi, and one of their long term aims is to participate in the distribution and implementation of Foldscopes/Foldscope lessons in schools in and around Eastern Africa. At the demo, she was joined by two other peers from UT Austin. The three attendees were all scientists by training and have had plenty of experience using different kinds of microscopes. So, they were very curious to try our Fodscopes. They all learned how to use it pretty quickly and were surprised at how well the Foldscopes worked. They were quick to recognized the characteristics of a Foldscope, such as portability and no need for electricity, that made it a better choice than standard educational microscopes. As a scientist by training, it always makes me smile when I see fellow scientists’ awe when using a Foldscope.
Rice University, TX (Contact: Chayan Dutta)
Chayan Dutta is a postdoctoral researcher at Rice University, and soon-to-be Assistant Professor at Georgia State University. His lab members and him attended the demo. None of them had used a Foldscope before, and only Chayan had heard of us. After handing them a Foldscope each, I asked them if they thought a Foldscope would work as well as any other educational microscope and they all expressed their doubts. By the end of the demo, all of those doubts had disappeared. They were all amazed at the brilliance in the simplicity of different Foldscope parts such as the focus ramp. They all shared how this would be a great tool for different outreach events and scientific explorations, and Chayan shared that once he was settled in his new position at Georgia State University, that he would love to lead a few projects with Foldscope as the main tool.
Texas State University, TX (Contact: Gail Dickinson)
Gail Dickinson is an Associate Professor of Science Education at Texas State University. I met her at a conference earlier this year and she was amazed by how useful a Foldscope was. She invited her peer Karen Ostlund, an Assistant Professor of Instruction at the University of Texas at Austin, to the demo. Both have had plenty of experience with a wide variety of scientific tools and were very interested in Foldscope because of its portability and affordability. They were very excited when they saw their first microscopic sample through a Foldscope. Both expressed their interest in incorporating Foldscope in the curriculum of college-leve classes. I shared how there are plenty of other faculty who have succesfully incorporated Foldscope at college-level, not just in STEM courses but also in Arts. I am looking forward to hopefully seen Foldscope at both universities in the upcoming academic year.
Open demo, Houston, TX
I hosted an open demo in Houston, Texas, for those interested in learning more about Foldscope but who were not part of a school district or organization. We had four attendees: Lakshmanan, Lakshmanan’s son, Diana, and Diana’s husband. We had originally planned on meeting at a local library but unfortunately there was a mistake with their schedule and when we got there it was closed, so we ended up moving to a nearby coffee shop that had plenty of space for us. Since we were next to a big window, all of them had the opportunity to compare using a Foldscope with our LED light which shines light directly through the sample, with using a Foldscope with natural light which shines light through the sample from different angles. It was a very fun demonstration.