Cellphone Microscopes, Please Break and Rebuild

Through a tweet I was pointed to this post about a middle school California standardized test which had a reading comprehension question on the proper use of a microscope.

The question that followed was this:

The microscope lens should initially be placed close to the glass slide:

A. Because focus is achieved by moving closer to the specimen.
B. Because the specimen on the slide will be in perfect focus.
C. To avoid breaking the glass slide when adjusting the focus.
D. To maintain distance from the microscopic stage.

The writer pointed out the insanity of students proving their knowledge of a microscope through their ability to follow a diagram’s instructions, which I completely agreed with and was equally disappointed by.

Have you ever looked through a microscope? Created a wet mount slide of pond water (I did in sixth grade) and utterly marveled at the world that exists inside that tiny space?

Inspired by the article, I started to search for what I new likely existed – hacks to build your own microscope with a mobile phone. I found this $5 one which is a 35x microscope that a maker attached to his iPhone case, creating a snap-on, snap-off microscope for his iPhone’s camera.

I ordered this little part from Amazon, but it’s not going to come in time for the class, so I’m going to make something a little harder, a 350x microscope attachment for the mobile phone. I looks to be a bit harder to make (and more expensive) but I’m hoping to use it for making not just 350x pictures, but videos as well. There’s another group making a similar scope that uses wet mount slides. The video will be really fun I hoping to make more animated GIFs, one of my ongoing passions.