A long journey to explore WATER - BACTERIA

  • javiera avila
I got in touch with the foldscope team last year, to develop some workshops within the program I was implementing for work. “Innovation with purpose”.
The program consists on implementing an innovative technology “plasma water sanitation system” to guarantee access to secure and potable water for vulnerable people.
Our vision is to connect advanced technology and science with poverty, social and environmental unrest.
Have to say that it was fun to assemble the foldscope from scratch. The first time I used the foldscope, was a complete failure.  We could not determine if we were seeing bacteria or dust in the lens.
Even though I had some help (lab team), it was so hard to guess the size of the bacteria. (it would help if you could make examples of the sizes expected when you see some components, alive or dead).
After a few attempts, we were able to see some e.coli (conjunto) in the samples. Or at least we thought so. We even dyed the sample with fuchsin.

After that, we tried with different and bigger samples. I took a very small bug that infested my cactus, and was amazed to see it was some kind of beetle with dots.

A job partner took a sample from an abandoned swimming pool with algae and something else we could not determine.

Even though we had some difficulties with correctly making the samples and having the conditions to see correctly, we managed.
So, we decided to develop a pilot workshop with 10-11 year old kids in one of the schools we are currently working.
The workshop consisted in presenting virus and bacteria, teach them how to grow bacteria and after that try to see bacteria from prepared samples.


At the end of the workshop, we were amazed of their curiosity and interest in live bacteria. They got right away, that they needed to be careful with the water they drink directly and be aware of the importance of having good hygiene practices.
The foldscope instrument was great to see how boundaries were broken and we were able to see them share peer to peer in a different way. I think it is a wonderful tool to create interest in children for science and environment, and a great instrument for teaching in a more interactive way (teachers).
I hope you generate more interactive tools/typs to prepare better slices/samples, different methodologies to see better (lighting, or something else), etc.
Professionally, I’ll keep using foldscope instruments in our water programs. And promote it with our allies (ngo’s). Looking forward to experiencing a workshop with adults. We will definitelly order more kits.
FYI: Hope this time it doesn’t take a whole 3 month period for them to arrive.
Personally, I would love to help and scale this in Chile aiming to rural schools and vulnerable kids with also a gender approach to it. there ar not enough female scientists around the world.                

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