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Under $10, Make-roscope's keychain microscope unlocks science for Filipino kids

Conceived during the pandemic, when classrooms remained empty and lab coats hung unused, a small and affordable tool turns smartphones into microscopes. The Make-roscope is a lens mounted in a strip of silicone that clings to a phone or tablet. It uses that device's camera to offer up to 400x magnification, powerful enough to view plankton, cells and even bacteria. The miniature microscope is designed for viewing dry and wet specimens — users can rest a regular glass slide on the Make-roscope. Because the scope is placed over a device's front camera, students can immediately see whatever they're examining on the phone or tablet's screen. 

Retailing for PHP 549 (under EUR/USD 10) as a pocket-sized laboratory that includes slides, a pipette and a case, Make-roscope has the potential to bridge educational gaps. Instead of taking turns on a few traditional class microscopes, kids can now each spend more time studying structures and organisms. Dreamt up by Jeremy De Leon, the Make-roscope has been chosen as the Philippines National Winner of the James Dyson Award 2023.


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Inventor Jeremy De Leon created the Make-roscope because he noticed a declining interest in science during the pandemic, when students couldn't get into schools to use microscopes and other tools for hands-on learning. He realized that while millions of children never have access to laboratories, smartphones are near-ubiquitous.

De Leon plans on using the James Dyson Award to roll out Make-roscope globally: "We will expand our goal of teaching not just Filipino students but every student in the world so they will be engaged in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, so we'll have more researchers, scientists, engineers, innovators and especially change makers."

The cheap and highly portable microscope could be valuable beyond the classroom, too: checking for agricultural pests, ensuring the safety of drinking water, performing citizen science projects — the potential uses are vast. One to help partner with? Or could your organization democratize access to other (scientific) tools?