Smartphone Becomes Microscope

Smartphone Becomes Microscope

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Saber Iftekhar Khan, MA
Middle School Science Teacher, San Francisco Friends School, San Francisco
Technology Integrator, Little Red Schoolhouse and Elizabeth Irwin High School, New York City

Eva Schmid, PhD
Research Scientist
University of California, Berkeley

Oliver Hoeller, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow
University of California, San Francisco

Science teachers often struggle to engage young students when their classroom experiences are limited to pre-prepared biological samples viewed through standard microscopes. Mr. Saber Khan, a middle school technology teacher, teamed up with University of California, Berkeley and San Francisco scientists Eva Schmid and Oliver Hoeller to develop a student-ready cell phone microscope, turning a clinical diagnostic tool into a portable device students and teachers could use as a mobile learning laboratory. To meet this challenge, Schmid and Hoeller drew on an Open Access article by global health researchers who’d invented the original cell phone microscope for use in remote clinical settings. With the adapted tool in hand, Khan’s middle school students collected and imaged samples in city parks, geotagged their locations and blogged about their results. Today, a traveling kit of cell phone microscopes has helped engage students from Hawaii to Austria.