I’m trying to do more science experiments with my son. We made a homopolar motor, learned about electricity with PlayDoh and LED lights, built a gamer remote control, made a 3D hologram projector, created a protective device for a raw egg, learned about the science of Ramune Japanese soda, and wondered why ice cubes crack in drinks.
I’m always looking for fun and easy science experiments so this DIY Phone Microscope got my attention. The video below made it sound easy:
I ordered my supplies and thought it would be easy to do, but boy was I wrong. First of all, the supply list is deceptively challenging:
1) Inexpensive laser pointer
I bought this Silvercell Wireless USB PPT Presenter PowerPoint Remote Control Presentation Pointer on Amazon for $7.69. It was the least expensive one I could find.
The issue is taking off the lens. It does not pop off with a pencil like the one in the video.
Not only do you have to pliers to pull of the tip but the lens is encased in bronze, with the one end covered up. It’s quite a task to remove the lens.
After freeing the lens from the laser pointer, it has to be pounded with a hammer to remove the bronze cover so that you can see into the lens.
2) Poster Tack
I failed to procure poster tack but I used double-stick masking tape and that was fine.
For $9, I bought this pack of four small flashlights, figuring that it will come in handy for something else. These flashlights, while the right size, are not flat on the bottom. I had to tape it to get it to stand upright. One flashlight also takes 3 AAA batteries which are not included.
4) Hard clear plastic to make mock glass lab slides. I used the packaging for an office supply for that.
5) White piece of paper. I used half an index card.
6) Puddle water. We used water from a stream but it sat in my office for two days.
This was the set up: we taped down the flashlight with the light side up. We placed the half index card on top of the flashlight and then the clear plastic “slides”. That black contraption is a tripod for my iPhone. We tried using that for the iPhone, but it was hard to get the lens in the right spot over the flashlight slide.
Finally, we had the pieces in place. It could be that the pond water organisms were dead but this is what we saw:
I tried again a few weeks later when the weather warmed up. This time, instead of a running brook, I got swampy water from the ditch by my public library.
I used a card with the letter “r” to make sure it works. Again, there are no living organisms. I think I am seeing specks of dirt. It’s been cold here lately, so I have to try again when the weather is warm for an entire week.
I let the same jar of muddy water sit in my office for two days, and I FINALLY got some action!
Sandor Katz and the Tiny Wild by Jacqueline Briggs Martin and June Jo Lee, illustrated by Julie Wilson
Pair your DIY microscope with this book about microbes found in the kitchen and refrigerator. That’s right! Microbes are found in fermented foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut, and pickles. Learn about Sandor Katz who turns vegetables into deliciousness that is also good for your gut health. The recipe for his Kraut-Chi (that’s kimchi + sauerkraut) is included in the backmatter. [picture book biography, ages 6 and up]
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BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.
6 thoughts on “STEM Science Project: DIY iPhone Microscope”
That is really cool! It is amazing what people think up and invent!
I’m glad you liked it! 🙂 It was harder to do than I would have thought!
Wow it turned out so great, very creative did you come up with it by yourself? Its important for strong lighting for a microscope to be able to see it clearly also can you focus with the iphone when you are looking through the microscope? 🙂
I used a DIY video as inspiration. It was amazing how well it worked though! Who knew you could make a DIY microscope from an iPhone?!
Very creative Mia! I wonder if I could have used this on my science project 15 years ago 😉
Yes! It would have been perfect! 🙂