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Foldscope In The Classroom: UN Biodiversity Day


How can we protect what we can’t see?

UN Biodiversity Day is a global celebration promoting the importance of protecting biological diversity. In 2024 the theme is “Be Part of the Plan.” The hope is that the public will take action and participate in efforts to halt and reverse biodiversity loss.

It is important to realize that biodiversity loss also applies to the microrealm. Identifying and documenting the microbes where you live can help research scientists get a more complete picture of biological diversity in the world. Read on for a fun way to let your students discover real world applications of biodiversity surveys with a Foldscope!

Figure 1. UN Biodiversity Day Logo
(Photo Credit: Convention on Biological Diversity)



May 22nd is the International Day for Biological Diversity, but you can participate in the work to protect nature every day! Use May 22nd to let the world know how you will “Be Part of the Plan!”

Figure 2. Picture of moss viewed under a Foldscope 2.0 at 140X magnification
(Photo Credit: Holly A. Stuart)




Figure 3. Picture of daphnia viewed under a Foldscope 2.0 at 140X magnification plus 5X zoom on phone
(Photo Credit: Holly A. Stuart)



  1. Choose an area for your biodiversity survey (ex: school garden, pond, athletic field, stream, etc.)
  2. Record the date and description of your sample site in your science notebook.
  3. Collect your sample using the tools in the premium accessory pack.
    • Water - tweezers, pipette, and Eppendorf tube
      • Use a pipette to collect water and put it into the Eppendorf tube.
      • Use the tweezers to collect some plant matter to add to the Eppendorf tube.
    • Soil - tweezers and ziplock bag
      • Use the tweezers to grab some soil and put it into the ziplock bag.
  4. Prep the sample (refer to Foldscope’s Expert Tips Videos for guidance on how to prepare slides)
    • Water - Use the tweezers to obtain plant matter from the Eppendorf tube (many microbes live on and around aquatic plants and algae) and place it on a slide. Use a pipette to place drops of water on separate slides.
    • Soil - Use the tweezers to place a small amount of soil in the strainer. Use a pipette to add water to the strainer. Hold the strainer over the petri dish, stir with tweezers and collect the filtrate in the dish. Use a pipette to place drops of filtrate on slides.
  5. Place a slide in the Foldscope, attach the LED to the back, and couple a phone or tablet to the front.
  6. Take pictures of the microorganisms, draw and describe them in your notebook, and match them to the microbes featured on the field guide. If there are any that you can’t identify, that is OK. Document them in your notebook with drawings and descriptions.
  7. Post your findings on the Microcosmos and include “UN Biodiversity Day” in the title of your post.
    • Include the following in your post: date, location, sample prep procedure, names/pictures/videos of the microbes, drawings and written descriptions of the microbes.
    • Include the microbes that you couldn’t ID in your post because a member of the Foldscope community might be able to help you out. Also, look through other UN Biodiversity Day posts, maybe you can help someone else with the ID process! This is a great opportunity to contribute to a larger scientific endeavor.
Figure 4. Picture of spirogyra algae viewed under a Foldscope 2.0 at 140X magnification plus 5X zoom on phone 
(Photo Credit: Holly A. Stuart)


Consider doing this biodiversity survey in the same spot multiple times a year or in a variety of different locations.

Figure 5. Picture of closterium algae viewed under a Foldscope 2.0 at 140X magnification plus 5X zoom on phone
(Photo Credit: Holly A. Stuart)



This blog ties together the three dimensional framework of the NGSS. It covers the Disciplinary Core Idea of Life Sciences. Students will see the Crosscutting Concept of Systems and System Models. This activity is also a way for students to deepen their understanding of the Science and Engineering Practice of Obtain, Evaluate, and Communicate Information.



However, this exploratory activity can go beyond the science classroom. Join forces with:

  • a Social Studies teacher to create maps to document where microbes can be found,
  • a Math teacher to organize the data collected into graphical form,
  • an ELA teacher to write an argumentative essay on the importance of including microbes in biodiversity surveys,
  • and a related arts teacher to use the pictures of microbes to create art that examines the elements and principles of art!
Figure 6. Picture of diatoms viewed under a Foldscope 2.0
(Photo Credit: Holly A. Stuart)



Share your observations, discoveries, pictures, and interdisciplinary extension activities with the Foldscope community. Submitting your UN Biodiversity Day data to the Microcosmos will help build up a strong scientific database that can help support new and innovative scientific research!