The in person training at the University of Delaware took place in the Ammon Pinizzotto Biopharmaceutical Innovation Center. This center is a part of the Delaware Biotechnology Institute and serves as a collaborative space for bioimaging for a variety of users from academic to industrial researchers. I was given a tour of the facility and saw so many different types of microscopes and methods of imaging! It is exciting to see how microscopy has grown from Antonie van Leeuwenhoek’s simple light microscope to atomic force microscopy and electron microscopy.
While these devices are extremely powerful, I kept thinking back to the humble beginnings of a child being exposed to the microscopic world for the first time. These early childhood experiences of using a microscope to see microorganisms in a drop of water, individual cells on a plant, or the hairs on the legs of a honey bee can lead to a deep appreciation of the natural world. It reminded me of the importance of teaching educators all over the world about the power of Foldscopes in the classroom!
The group attending this training included high school students, high school teachers, research associates, and university professors. The goal of this training was to prepare the attendees to use them as part of K-12 outreach programs. The high school students and teachers are leading 4-H summer programs where they will be working with children as young as 6 years old. There were only two attendees who had heard of Foldscopes before the training, and they both told me afterwards that the in person training made a huge difference in their understanding of the parts of the Foldscope and its construction and assembly.
During the training, we learned about who Foldscope was - in terms of the mission, vision, and goals of the company, what you can do with a Foldscope, how to assemble a Foldscope and couple it to your phone/tablet, and how to prepare slides. In addition, attendees created accounts on the Microcosmos and downloaded the app so that they could begin posting right away!
We also talked about the innovative ways in which you can use a Foldscope that let you think beyond the traditional biology science lesson. We discussed taking the Foldscopes outdoors, using them to teach physical and earth sciences, and collaborating with other content area teachers to create interdisciplinary lessons.
At the end of the training, I made sure that everyone could successfully use their Foldscopes with prepared slides and with the slides that they prepared. They also understood where the tricky parts of assembly will be for the children that they work with in the future. But most importantly, every attendee was excited to use their Foldscopes on their own and with others. And that is the real win in the world of science. Make it fun, make it engaging, and let the students take the lead when it comes to scientific discovery!