Weekend Science: Turn Your Smartphone Into a Microscope

Kate Horowitz

Ahh, Sunday. Time for coffee, lounging around, and … microbes? Why not? The video above will show you how to make your own microscope so you can see the teeny tiny creepy crawlies that inhabit your world.

Host Anna Rothschild’s DIY microscope hearkens back to the early days of microscopy, when curious inventors attached a lens to a tube. These lenses were nothing compared to the high-powered magnification we have today, but they were strong enough to reveal the hidden lives of small animals like fleas—an activity that became so popular that they were nicknamed “flea glasses.” 

To make your own microscope, you’ll need a smartphone, some poster tack, plastic packaging (like that surrounding your poster tack), a piece of white paper, a lens removed from a cheap laser pointer, and a flashlight. You’ll also need a sample—ideally something wet and teeming with microbes, like puddle water.

Header image from YouTube // Gross Science