Sheri's sailing blog

Sailing for science and sustainability

Making the unseen seen - the role of Foldscope in tackling the plastics issue

  • Foldscope in Nepal
    Photo
    Sheri Bastien
  • Foldscope Tanzania
    Photo
    Sheri Bastien
  • Foldscope class Tanzania
    Photo
    Sheri Bastien
  • Foldscope India
    Photo
    Anise Gold-Watts

I see eXXpedition as a unique opportunity to share my passion for Foldscope, an award winning origami-based microscope that is ultra affordable, portable, durable, and gives the same optical quality as a conventional microscope. I am fortunate to have collaborated with the Prakash Lab at Stanford University since 2014 and incorporated Foldscope in all my research projects since. 

 

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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!

Published 12. December 2019 - 8:00 - Updated 12. December 2019 - 8:00

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