LegoScope is a DIY microscope made out of lego, lenses and a few custom-made pieces. The UCSF grad students behind the project spoke with Synapse about the ways in which LegoScope can demystify microscopy and science education:
How can LegoScope help students learn?
Reid Williams: It’s not what you’re teaching, but how are you teaching. What’s really interesting for us, and what we’ve heard from teachers, is that there’s an advantage in a very hands-on, process-oriented fashion. The underlying need that we’re working towards is learning something by putting together a tool rather than watching someone lecture.
If you are teaching the fifth to eighth grades, LegoScope can help incorporate a more intuitive feel for optics, or just for building and systems-thinking in general. Students would take away more than microscopy and optics, but also the more intangible aspects, like an intuitive understanding of how light behaves. It can be a very powerful exercise.
Harrison Liu: A microscope is seen almost like a “black box,” yet we can take it apart and see how it works with LegoScope. When you build something, then you can take ownership of it, you really learn it well. You have to learn what each part does. It’s different from normal teaching.