Observational microscopy has greatly helped biology education. Still, we cannot easily and playfully interact with the microscopic world. Therefore, scientists from the Stanford University have developed a new smartphone microscope. This new smartphone microscope allows kids to play games and makes serious observations through Euglena. Euglena is nothing but light seeking microbes. This microscope is also known as LudusScope. Ludusscope means: in Latin Ludus means to play, game or elementary school.
It is an accessible, interactive do-it-yourself smartphone microscopy platform that promotes exploratory stimulation and observation of microscopic organisms. The main goal behind this smartphone microscope was to play games with living cells on your phone. In design, it combines the educational methods of building, playing, and inquiring.
Professor Ingmar Riedel-Kruse said, “Many subject areas like engineering or programming have neat toys that get kids into it, but microbiology does not have that to the same degree.”
“It developed much beyond that to enable self-driven inquiry, measurement and building your own instrument,” he added.
It has a scaffold surrounded by four LEDs for a microscope slide. The Euglena’s light responsive microbes slide independently on this microscope slide. Kids can influence the swimming direction of these light-responsive microbes with a joystick that activates the LEDs.
Additionally, above the platform, a smartphone holder positions the phone’s camera over a microscope eyepiece, providing a view of the cells below.
One looks like the 1980s video game Pac-Man, with a maze containing small white dots. Kids can select one cell to track. They then can use the LED lights to control which direction the cell swims in an attempt to guide it around the maze and collect the dots. Other game looks like a soccer stadium. Kids will earn the points by guiding Euglena through the goal posts to play.
Other applications supply microscope scale-bars, real-time displays of swimming speed or zoomed-in views of individual cells. This enables kids to collect data on Euglena behaviour.