Did you get a Foldscope as a gift? Now that the excitement of such a great present has turned into curiosity, are you wondering how to begin your microscopy journey? Then this blog is for you! Read on to get some tips on how to get the most out of your Foldscope experience!
Step 1: Open It Up!
This may seem like a funny thing to suggest, but I have talked to many teachers, friends, and family members who have received Foldscopes and were afraid to open the box for fear of “messing it up.” Let me put your mind at rest - Foldscopes are sturdy and made to be used! And if the worst happens and a part rips, remember it’s paper, you can just tape it back together!
I have had the Foldscope shown below for about six years now. Last year it got a rip in it (and this is after a lot of use!). All I did was put a piece of tape over it and it was good to go!
If you still feel intimidated after opening the box and looking at the pieces, check out some of the Foldscope tutorial videos on our YouTube page. You can learn how to use the original Foldscope, the Foldscope 2.0, and the Foldscope Mini.
Step 2: Look At A Prepared Slide!
Once you feel comfortable with how the Foldscope works, take a look at a prepared slide. Foldscope Explorer Kits come with either the Fern Rhizome, the Microprint slide, or the Microprint Trading Card. There are also the new MicroRealms Explorer Cards with real specimens in them! (NOTE: The Foldscope 2.0 Classroom Kit and Foldscope Mini Classroom Kit do not come with prepared slides. But don’t worry - there is still PLENTY for you to explore!) If you do not have any Foldscope prepared slides, you can use any standard prepared glass slides.
Step 3: Make Your Own Slide!
Now that you know how to use your Foldscope, it is time for you to make your own slides! One great starting point is hair. Take a small piece of hair, place it on a blank slide, and cover it with a clear sticker to hold it in place. Then place the slide in your Foldscope. Hair is a great starter sample because it is easy to see if you are in focus or not. Try using hair from different people and even animals. It is amazing how different each strand can look under a Foldscope!
Step 4: Take Pictures With Your Phone!
The next fun thing for you to do with your Foldscope is take pictures of your microscopic discoveries. To do this, you will couple your phone or tablet to your Foldscope. There are videos showing you how to do this on our YouTube channel. Make sure you are viewing the correct video for your Foldscope! The original Foldscope phone coupler is a magnet which is different from the phone coupler for the Foldscope 2.0. The Foldscope 2.0 phone coupler is a metal washer which eliminates interference that some users experienced with the original Foldscope phone coupler.
Step 5: Explore The Outdoors!
This is the moment you have been looking forward to - it is time to take your Foldscope outside! Foldscope microscopes are designed to be portable so that you can carry a microscopy lab in your pocket! Take a walk outside. What do you see that catches your eye? Put it on a slide and explore the microscopic secrets that are hidden right in front of you. Do you see a pond, river, or water puddle? Put a ring sticker on a slide and then place a drop of water inside it. Prepare to be amazed at how much life you will discover inside that tiny drop of water! If you feel like you need a little more guidance on how to prepare slides, check out the videos on our YouTube channel. You can learn how to prepare slides for the original Foldscope and for the Foldscope 2.0 and Foldscope Mini.
Step 6: Have Fun!
This is the most important step of all. Remember that science and microscopy are fun. Exploration and discovery are fun. Take your time and enjoy the process of finding new samples. Slow down and watch microbes swim around on a slide. Marvel at the way a shift in light can make a sample appear to glow. The fact that Foldscopes are low cost, high quality scientific tools makes them perfect for unleashing your curiosity, creativity, and imagination.
What will you look at under a Foldscope? I hope this inspires you to dive into the microscopic world and find the beauty that is 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!