“Foldscope Cambodia aims to empower socio-economically disadvantaged students by providing more accessibility to the microscopic world so that they realize and aware of their potential to create sustainable impacts in the community.”
When you are sitting in a biology lesson in school, have you ever wondered what the cells would look like because your school lacks thousands of dollars?
Have you ever gotten sick because of the water you drink because you are unaware of just how much monstrous bacteria there are in that little cup of water?
I guess if you are living in a city and study in a modern school, you haven’t experienced these situations; but many people in rural areas face these problems every single day.
The lack of scientific equipment such as microscopes limits experimentation, realistic visualizations, engagement, and understanding for the students. Therefore, the students have no inspiration for exploring. This ultimately drives students out of the passionate-zone when it comes to science and biology, leaving them disinterested.
But today, there is a mindblowing tool called Foldscope which is the light for those students who need a cheap microscopic tool.
Foldscope is extremely affordable (only 1 dollar to make!), portable and durable. This mini-paper-microscope was invented by Stanford Professor and a Ph.D. student: Many Prakash and Jim Cybulski.
Foldscope has a magnification of 140x which enables students and explorers to enter a whole new world of microorganisms that they had never even imagined about before. This revolutionary tool has been inspiring more passion for biology and encouraging significant scientific curiosity and exploration in all corners of the globe, especially impoverished and underprivileged communities.
That is the reason why Cambodia is the perfect place to implement Foldscope, given our lack of technical supplies in standard education systems. Cambodia is still growing in many sectors, especially in education which is a driving sector of our nation’s future. While trying to improve our education system, many people overlook the importance of science. Many students lose interest in this fascination subject day by day because they do not have a chance to get out of the imaginary textbooks and to actually explore the real mind-blowing world of science.
With the mission to bring back the passion towards science exploration and biology, I am honored to be a part of the Foldscope Cambodia Project which put our best into crafting an engaging and effective workshop to implement Foldscope in different government schools.
In order to do so, we have created several Foldscope tutorial videos including What is Foldscope, How to assemble and How to prepare sample slides.
After hours of hard work, we were excited to finally bring our workshop to two government schools in Kompong Thom with the help of the Youthstar organization.
These two workshops were so impacting to me and other members of the projects just as much as it was to the young students.
Upon our arrival, many students gathered with curiosity to wait for us. After we introduced ourselves and the project, we could see the fascination in their eyes, and that made me really happy. The workshop continues in smaller groups with a Foldscope Cambodia member as a facilitator.
This experience that put me in the middle of a group of young students waiting for me to guide, assist, and show them was a new experience. It was completely outside of my comfort zone, which is great. Although I was nervous, excitement precedes.
While teaching the technical skills of assembling the microscope, preparing the slides, and other scientific knowledge, I tried to encourage soft skills team-work, collaboration, communication as well. I made sure to give a chance to quieter students to speak and give the task to someone who is not as active. After a while, the students understood both the technical concepts as well as the soft skills as well. They helped each other with all of the tasks and were ready to explore with the tiny microscope which they assembled by themselves for the first time! All of them ran out of the classroom with the sample slides in hands and scattered out to scavenger-hunt the samples. A few minutes later, they arrived back with a smile and impressive samples in their hands. Some brought dirty water and some brought all kinds of insects and parts of plants.
After hunting down these samples, it was time to reveal the secret of these samples. The reaction from the students to the sight of what was under the lense of Foldscope the greatest part.
They were so fascinated and curious that they couldn’t stop questioning. Not only the students but the teachers in the school were even more surprised by the view inside Foldscope.
I remembered a child examining an ant she found inside Foldscope and said loudly that it was so big.
At the end of the workshop, we gathered everyone together for the reflection and conclusion. We asked representatives from each team to present their findings, reactions, thoughts, questions, and future plans after the workshop. That was the most memorable part where we could hear from those students the impact we made. All of them loved using Foldscope to explore the simple everyday nature around them like insects and plants. Furthermore, they asked thought-provoking questions that proved to us the impact Foldscope can make.
Finally, we congratulate the students for their outstanding performance and expressed our gratitude to the schools by donating 2 sets of Foldscope kits and other educational books as a resource for these curious and bright young kids.
Although we met a lot of challenges during implementing the workshop, the result was so beyond-expectation that we would love to see this project grow even more.
After the Foldscope Cambodia Project, I truly believe that the innovation industry should try to focus more on helping those in need and not just create technology for already-advanced communities.
As a member, I am so grateful to see curiosity and the will to explore science from those young and underprivileged students and believe we should do more towards helping them to continue learning and exploring.