LudusScope Lets Kids Discover Microbiology with a 3-D Printed Microscope

Interesting Engineering

A Stanford bioengineer created a fun tool for kids to help them understand the microcosmos with a smartphone.

LudusScope combines the smartphone with a 3-D printed microscope that allows kids to play with light-seeking microbes. They can observe tiny light-seeking euglenas, single-celled flagellates, and eukaryotes. Moreover, it's a priceless for kids to learn about experimentation and discovery.

luduscope[Image source: PMC]

“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. The initial idea for this project was to play games with living cells on your phone. And then it developed much beyond that to enable self-driven inquiry, measurement and building your own instrument.” says Ingmar Riedel-Kruse, an assistant professor of bioengineering, who helped develop the app.

He named his design the LudusScope inspired by the Latin word “Ludus,” which means “game," “play,” or “elementary school.”

luduscope2[Image source: PMC]

The LudusScope consists of a platform for the slide where the eukaryotes swim freely, encircled by four LEDs. Kids can control the floating direction of these light-responsive microbes with a joystick that induces the LEDs.

Above the platform, a smartphone holder locates the camera over a microscope eyepiece, dispensing a view of the cells below. The designers explains how children can play with cells as:

luduscope3[Image source: PMC]

"On the phone, children can run a variety of software that overlay on top of the image of the cells. One looks like the 1980s video game Pac-Man, with a maze containing small white dots. Kids can select one cell to track, then use the LED lights to control which direction the cell swims in an attempt to guide it around the maze and collect the dots.

Another game looks like a soccer stadium. Kids earn points by guiding the Euglena through the goal posts. Other non-game applications provide microscope scale-bars, real-time displays of swimming speed or zoomed-in views of individual cells. These let kids collect data on Euglena behavior, swimming speed and natural biological variability."

luduscope4[Image source: PMC]

The device also teaches children to build, observe, interact and model - crucial keys to new science education standards.

According to Riedel-Kruse, the project started as part of a Stanford Bioengineering Class but later got a kid-friendly treatment.

luduscope5[Image source: PMC]

“I thought the interactive cell stimulation and the resulting games was the coolest thing but the teachers and students didn’t necessarily agree. What they were more excited about is the more basic things like the ability to build your own instrument, that multiple people can see the screen at the same time and that you can select and track individual cells.” said Riedel-Kruse.

No word yet as to when these kids would be available for purchase. However, Riedel-Kruse hoped it would on the market sometime next year.

SEE ALSO: Turn Any Phone Camera into a Microscope With This Tiny Device

To get further information,  you can read full report of the research titled "LudusScope: Accessible Interactive Smartphone Microscopy for Life-Science Education"

Via Stanford News

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