Foldscope definitely put the 'I' for INnovation in Project SHINE, for instance. I've seen first hand how powerful an experience it can be when a Foldscope is placed into the hands of someone that has never had the opportunity to use a microscope before, especially among Maasai pastoralists in Tanzania.
Thanks to the generosity of my friends and colleagues at Foldscope Instruments, I will be distributing these game changing frugal science tools to youth and community members that we encounter on beaches and at harbors. How might these play a role in raising consciousness and spurring action about plastics? Youth may collect samples of marine debris or marine life, or for instance from plankton who may have ingested micro plastics. This can be a very confronting, consciousness raising activity that can spark some discussion about the extent of the issue (we can often fall into the 'not in my backyard' trap) and what youth and community members can do to take action.
This frugal tool not only contributes to democratizing science and making it accessible to many that would otherwise have to rely on a textbook, it holds tremendous potential to unlock and unleash curiosity and creativity. It has been said that youth are to a greater extent unencumbered by the preconceptions and assumptions about what works and what doesn't; we need to tap into that when it comes to solving the issue of plastics and other sustainable development challenges. Foldscope and frugal science in general also demonstrate that you don’t need access to expensive equipment to become the next great scientist who comes up with an invention that changes the world. Sometimes a sense of wonder, quenchless curiosity and inexpensive resources can lead to unexpected discoveries.
I can't wait to see how the kids react in the communities we engage with through the sailing expedition! Stay tuned for updates!