Try out a new, inexpensive (under $2.00), high power microscope with your students?

Science teaching colleagues,

You may recall reading my earlier posts about a free (under $2.00) high-power microscope, called the Foldscope, developed by inventor Manu Prakash at Stanford University. Even though Foldscopes are intended for use in poor countries, I applied to the project explaining that adult basic educators in the U.S. who teach science often don't have science equipment, including microscopes, and I asked for 50 Foldscopes that I agreed to distribute to teachers who would each agree to:

  • Use them with their students,
  • Develop at least one high school equivalency or adult basic education science lesson plan to be shared with me, and which I will share with the Foldscope project and with the LINCS Science Community of Practice 
  • Prepare a one-page project report that includes: 1) How you used the Foldscopes with your students, 2) What you and your students liked and didn’t like about the Foldscope, and using it; and 3) Where relevant, how you felt the Foldscope helped your students prepare for the high school equivalency test.

I just learned that I have been awarded Foldscopes (I asked for 50)  that will be shipped to me shortly. I anticipate having between eight and ten teachers involved in the project, and each teacher will get four or five Foldscopes.

If you are interested in participating in the project, which will take place in the first six months of 2015, send me an email application indicating:

1) Why you are interested

2) Whether or not your students currently have access to microscopes and, if so, what kind and magnification

3) What you plan to do with the Foldscopes, and

and include your contact information -- your full name, role(s) at your program or school, name of program or school, address where you want me to mail the Foldscopes to you.

If I get more than ten applications, I will use what you write in your email to select who will be able to participate. 

Please email your application as soon as possible, but before January 6, 2015.

For more information about Foldscopes, go to and/or watch the TED talk with the inventor, Manu Prakash at

David J. Rosen



Science teaching colleagues,

So far I have received only two inquiries. Granted, you have until January 5th, but applying earlier shows high interest and good time management skills. Also, perhaps you will have a little time to do this over the holiday break. I hope so!

David J. Rosen


Hi Cynthia,

You could forward the information to the adult educators you work with and ask them to consider applying as individuals. At this point I do not yet have many people who have expressed interest, so it would be great if some of your teachers applied.

Others reading this: if you are planning to apply do so soon! The January 6th deadline is approaching.

All the best in the new year,

David J. Rosen

Hello, David,

​Thanks so much for taking the lead on this project.  We certainly appreciate that you have taken the time to apply on our behalf for these microscopes.  Should I be in the classroom now, I'd be first in line!  

So, this is a nudge to all of the members of the Science Community of Practice.  Please consider applying for these microscopes.  You'll have a use for them!

Cheers, Susan



This is an update on the Foldscope beta test for adult basic education teachers of science. Thirteen teachers were selected for the project, and they are now beginning to receive Foldscopes to test with their students. As I understand it from Manu Prakash at Stanford University, they are no longer accepting new beta testers.

We have formed an online adult educators Foldscope tryout group to discuss assembling and using the Foldscopes with adult learners. There is a high degree of excitement about them, and a couple of teachers and students have already assembled and begun to use theirs. I have made one myself and found it easy enough and enjoyable as a process. If you are interested in seeing what beta testers around the world are using their Foldscopes to do, go to  and you will see images taken using Foldscopes. (It is possible to attach a smartphone to the Foldscope, and then to email the image to that web page -- or wherever.)

Periodically I -- or perhaps some of the Foldscope project science teachers -- will post back to the LINCS science CoP on the project's progress.

From what you know at this point, what questions do you have for the teachers and students involved in this low-cost microscope beta test?  About assembling it, using it, how what students are seeing may be changing their perceptions of their world, or other questions. I would be glad to pass your questions on to them and to post their replies here, unless of course they wish to reply here themselves.

David J. Rosen


As you may know, I am working with a group of adult education teachers of science who are beta testing new very inexpensive microscopes called Foldscopes. As a Foldscope experiment, I recently looked at table salt crystals under an 140x power Foldscope microscope. (There is also a 400x lens that I haven't tried yet.) I attached my Foldscope to my smart phone and took the photo below. You can see lots of amazing photos that students around the world have taken with their Foldscopes at  I understand that sometime in the future Foldscopes will be available for purchase, for probably under $2.00 apiece. If so, these may be very useful to science teachers across the world, including adult ed teachers of science in the U.S., who currently do not have access to microscopes for themselves or their students.

Meanwhile, I would appreciate your help. If you had Foldscopes for your students, what would you want to look at? How would being able to make slides and look at them under a 140x power or a 400x microscope enhance what you are doing now? Specifically, how would you use microscopes in what you are doing now? Thanks in advance for your thoughts

David J. Rosen

Image removed.