Engineering Is Diagnosing Diseases with Origami Microscopes


Engineering Is Diagnosing Diseases with Origami Microscopes tells the story of how Stanford University bioengineer Manu Prakash and his colleagues designed a lightweight, inexpensive, robust, paper microscope in order to help people in developing countries and remote areas diagnose diseases. The book explores optics and how microscopes work–including the Foldscope–through video and animation, and shows how Foldscopes are inspiring students around the world to ask questions and make discoveries. It also contains a career spotlight video of a graduate student who uses microscopes in his research on heart cells.

  • Engineering Is Diagnosing Diseases with Origami Microscopes | E-book

    The new, media-rich e-book from QUEST, Engineering Is Diagnosing Diseases with Origami Microscopes, tells the story of how Stanford University bioengineer Manu Prakash and his colleagues designed a lightweight, inexpensive, robust, paper microscope in order to help people in developing countries and remote areas diagnose diseases. The book explores optics and how microscopes work–including the Foldscope–through video and animation, and shows how Foldscopes are inspiring students around the world to ask questions and make discoveries. It also contains a career spotlight video of a graduate student who uses microscopes in his research on heart cells.

    You can find our other e-books at kqed.org/ebooks.

    Grades: 6-13+
  • Diagnosing Diseases with Origami Microscopes | QUEST

    How can engineering save lives? In places like Asia, Latin America and Africa, populations are often prone to diseases that are spread by microbes which cannot be seen by the naked eye. How, then, can their diseases be diagnosed and treated? Traditional microscopes are expensive to use and repair, so many clinics just go without them, severely impairing their efficacy. Manu Prakash, an assistant professor at Stanford University, knew there had to be another way. He made a self-assembled, foldable microscope that costs under a dollar to increase access to microscopes and ability to diagnose and treat these otherwise undetectable diseases. 

    Grades: 6-12
  • Microscopes for the Masses | QUEST

    How can engineering save lives? In places like Asia, Latin America and Africa, populations are often prone to diseases that are spread by microbes which cannot be seen by the naked eye. How, then, can their diseases be diagnosed and treated? Traditional microscopes are expensive to use and repair, so many clinics just go without them, severely impairing their efficacy. Manu Prakash, an assistant professor at Stanford University, knew there had to be another way. He made a self-assembled, foldable microscope that costs under a dollar to increase access to microscopes and ability to diagnose and treat these otherwise undetectable diseases.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Developmental & Stem Cell Biology Graduate Student | QUEST

    Meet Elijah Martin, a second year graduate student in the Developmental and Stem Cell Biology program at UCSF. He has wanted to study the heart since he was a young child, and now he's well on his way to turning his dream into a career. He works in the laboratory of Dr. Deepak Srivastava at the Gladstone Institutes, where he helps develop therapies for heart disease. In the lab, Martin grows heart cells in petri dishes, which involves mixing together different chemicals and nutrients to get the cells to grow and develop into a heart. He also uses microscopes to track the growth of the cells. 

    Grades: 6-12
  • Science Spotlight: Bending Light with a New Kind of Microscope | QUEST

    Watch a Stanford Bioengineer explain how microscopes work, and how he was able to use micro-optics to build one out of paper with this video from KQUED's Science 2015 series. This video is part of our Engineering Is: Diagnosing Diseases with Origami Microscopes e-book. The e-book explores the science and engineering principles behind Manu Prakash’s Foldscopes project, and includes videos, interactives and media making opportunities. Find our other e-books at kqed.org/ebooks.

    Grades: 6-12

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