Almost half a million people have looked at Kenji Yoshino’s instructions for making a microscope. Using only a smartphone, a laser pointer and some bits of plastic and wood, Yoshino can build a microscope that can magnify things up to 325 times, all for only $10. You can see individual salt crystals, plant cells and much, much more. While my own rendition of the do-it-yourself microscope didn’t go over so well, I had a great time talking to Yoshino about it.
Yoshino has a passion for bringing science to the people. He is currently a post-baccalaureate assistant for the Science Learning Center at Grinell College in Iowa. He has started local programs such as “Try this at home,” where kids 8-12 can learn how to do science with items from the grocery or hardware store. And he is no stranger to DIY projects. He once made a bow and arrow set out of a pair of skis!
This previous experience came in handy when he made his now famous DIY microscope. But he didn’t set out to build a microscope. He found instructions online on how to use the lens from the inside of a laser pointer, strapped to your smartphone camera lens, to make a magnifying glass.
He tried it himself, and it worked! But it had some problems. The lens sat tight against the phone, blocking out the light for things he was trying to look at. Soon he was arranging desk lamps trying to get a better view. He also had trouble holding his phone steady enough with just his hand. He propped it up on the desk, but then had trouble with focus.
Written By: Bethany Brookshire
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