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Foldscope Explores… Connections!

Have you ever looked at an object under a microscope and thought to yourself, “Hey, that reminds me of …?” This type of thing happens a lot to me when I look at samples with my Foldscope 2.0! And this is a great skill to have as a scientist!

Figure 1. Picture of the brown algae in the tide pool
(Photo Credit: Holly A. Stuart)

Brown Algae

On a recent trip to the beach I saw brown algae clinging to rocks in the tide pools. I put a blank trading card in the water, caught a small piece of brown algae floating by, and sealed the algae in the black ring sticker on the card.

Figure 2. Picture of the blank trading card with the brown algae sample mounted in a black ring sticker
(Photo Credit: Holly A. Stuart)

Connection #1: Lace Curtains

I started my investigation with the 50X lens on my Foldscope 2.0. The first thing I noticed was the light, billowy texture of the algae. I found a spot where the algae wasn’t entirely flat against the slide. The folds looked so delicate that it made me think of a lace curtain blowing in a gentle breeze. And this makes sense because when you look at algae submerged in the water, it flows and moves with the waves in a way that is reminiscent of the wind blowing a lace curtain.

Figure 3. Picture of brown algae viewed under a Foldscope 2.0 at 50X magnification (left) and lace curtains blowing in a breeze (right)
(Photo Credit Left: Holly A. Stuart; Photo Credit Right: www.voilavoile.com)

Connection #2: Skin

After exploring the algae with the 50X lens, I moved up to 140X magnification. I saw the ridges of the algae cell walls lining what looked like puffed up cells. The pattern looked similar to the topography of the lines on the skin on the back of my hand. Even though both appear flat, the skin and the algae cells are actually three dimensional. Each algae cell holds many structures, including the nucleus, mitochondria, cytoplasm, and chloroplasts.

Figure 4. Picture of brown algae viewed under a Foldscope 2.0 at 140X magnification plus 5X zoom (left) and skin (right)
(Photo Credit Left: Holly A. Stuart; Photo Credit Right: Wikimedia Commons)

Connection #3: Squid Chromatophores

When I increased the magnification to 340X I revealed even more detail of the brown algae cells! The packets of color inside each of the algae cells were so clearly defined that my thoughts immediately went to pictures I had seen of squid chromatophores. The connection here seems pretty straightforward. The chloroplasts inside of the algae cells and the chromatophores of the squid are both responsible for providing color to the organisms.

Figure 5. Picture of brown algae viewed under a Foldscope 2.0 at 340X magnification plus 5X zoom (left) and squid chromatophores (right)
(Photo Credit Left: Holly A. Stuart; Photo Credit Right: By Minette from Seattle, Washington - Chromatophores, CC BY 2.0)



The ability to make connections between different observations and phenomena is a skill that scientists use everyday. These connections lead to the questions whose answers deepen our understanding of the world around us.

Figure 6. Picture of brown algae viewed under a Foldscope 2.0 at 140X
(Photo Credit: Holly A. Stuart)



Have you looked under a Foldscope 2.0 and seen connections to other natural phenomena? Use your Foldscope to dive into the microscopic world and uncover the mysteries that are there waiting for you. Share your microscopic images and thoughts on the Microcosmos. Be sure to tag us on social media when you post the results of your explorations, creations, and discoveries! We love to see how Foldscopers around the world are using their Foldscopes in new and innovative ways!

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Image of lace curtains: https://www.voilavoile.com/explore/162/things-to-know-about-lace-curtains  

Image of Skin Under Microscope: Wikimedia Commons

Image of Squid Chromatophores: By Minette from Seattle, Washington - Chromatophores, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4123643