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'Fast & Curious' tour - Bay Area June/July 2022

by Paola Moreno-Roman

Week 1

Youth SF Camp (Contact: Louis Kolenda)

A summer camp that is taking place at St. Monica School in San Francisco, CA. geared towards cultivating the scientific spirit in students from underserved communities. I taught 10 students and 2 classroom coordinators how to use the Foldscope. The students were 11-12 years old and were very engaged. Most of them have never used a microscope before. They got really excited when looking at samples. One of the coordinators had dyed her hair green months ago, and even though it wasn’t noticiable by the eye, we could see the green dye when looking at her hair through a Foldscope.

Photo credit: Paola Moreno-Roman


Northridge Coop CommUNITY Garden (Contact: Mishwa Lee)

Northridge Coop CommUNITY Garden is a community garden started by Northridge Coop Homes’s desire to bring the community together to improve health outcomes. They work with local youth as well. The original plan was to teach 4 adults, but there was an summer program for neighborhood kids and I invited them to join. I distributed 12 Foldscopes to all those who were in attendance. All of them were very engaged, particularly the two older kids who learned how to use the Foldscope very quickly. We looked at little bugs and other samples they found in the community garden. As I was leaving, they gave me some delicious fruits from their garden.

Photo credit: Paola Moreno-Roman

Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (Contact: Natasha Brown)

The Lawrence Berkeley National Lab is a Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science lab managed by University of California. They have a group that organizes science outreach events. One of them will take place in August, where they were planning on teaching 30 high school girls from the area how to use a Foldscope. Thus, the timing of this demo was great to prepare them for their upcoming event. Since it is a governmental agency, I needed to go through a particular gate to get my visitor pass and got a bit lost along the way. Eventually, Natasha Brown found me and took me to the room where the Foldscope demo was going to take place. We had 6 attendees who learned how to use the Foldscope pretty quickly. They were very excited about the fact that Foldscopes could be coupled very easily with their phones.After the demo, they ordered $10K in products - the largest individual order we have had so far. I can’t wait to hear how their August event goes!

 Photo credit: Paola Moreno-Roman

Marshall Elementary School (Contact: Robin McCoy)

Marshall Elementary School is part of the Castro Valley Unified School District, where students are guided by excellent inspired staff, utilizing innovative instruction, curricula and technology. I guided 4 teachers and 1 student, who were in attendance, on how to use a Foldscope, prepare samples, and couple the Foldscope with their phones. They had previously purchased Foldscopes so, now that they are feeling more confident in teaching others how to use it, they are planning on incorporating it in upcoming school activities.

Photo credit: Paola Moreno-Roman 

BioJam Camp (https://biojamcamp.weebly.com/)

BioJam Camp is a 3-week camp in collaboration with Migrant Education Region XVI (Monterey County Office of Education). In 2022, they served over 30 migrant high school students from Salinas and South Monterey County (California, USA). One of the summer camp activities was teaching the students how to use a Foldscope. For this activity, Manu Prakash, co-founder and co-inventor of Foldscope, joined via zoom. I met with the BioJam Camp team and students a week after that workshop to gather feedback and answer any questions. Unfortunately, the students had left their Foldscopes in their backpacks in the bus so I couldn’t help them troubleshoot but was able to chat with them about their experience. They all were very excited to have had the opportunity to see microscopic structures.


 Week 2

Lucy Evans Baylands Nature Interpretive Center (Contact: Corinne DeBra)

The Baylands Preserve is one of the largest tracts of undisturbed marshland remaining in the San Francisco Bay. The Lucy Evans Center provides a unique opportunity to view a pristine salt marsh habitat. I met up with 6 members who are part of the Lucy Evans Center to train them on how to use the Foldscope. The most exciting part was looking at water samples from a nearby pond. We saw some microorganisms swimming around. After the demo, they expressed their interest in organizing more activities at the Center using Foldscope.

Photo credit: Paola Moreno-Roman

Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge (Contact: Karan Gathani)

Another beautiful space in the Bay Area. It was established to preserve and enhance wildlife habitat; protect migratory birds and threatened and endangered species; and provide opportunities for wildlife-oriented recreation and nature study for the surrounding communities. There were 5 attendees. The natural light in this space was great. We were able to find copepods in the water samples from the ponds in the area - all of us screamed in excitement when we saw it swimming around. The following day, I received an email from Karan telling me that all the attendees stayed talking after the demo about how awesome Foldscope was. I am really excited to be contributing in sparking excitement and curiosity in others through the work that I do!

 Photo credit: Paola Moreno-Roman


Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve

All demos were for groups. However, quite a few clients I reached out expressed their interest in attending a demo as individuals. With that in mind, I organized a demo at Jasper Ridge. Jasper Ridge is a nature preserve and biological field station that is affiliated to Stanford University. We had 11 attendees to the demo. My coworkers, Jim (CEO), Christine (HR/Admin), and Melissa (Marketing) also attended the event. One of the attendees had a really good camera and everyone was impressed at the high quality of the images through the Foldscope. We looked at a wide variety of both solid and aqueous samples.

 Photo credit: Paola Moreno-Roman


Meeting at Hyde Street Pier (Contact: Hamilton Carter)

This meeting was different from all the other ones because it took place at the beach in San Francisco. Hamilton Carter had previously purchased Foldscopes for his kids and wanted to become more familiar with how use it. He organized a small group of families for this workshop. It was an amazing experience to teach the kids how to use a Foldscope while sitting at the beach. The first sample we all looked at was sand and the kids were blown away by how beautiful it looked. They also collected feather, dried algae, and more.

Photo credit: Paola Moreno-Roman