Building Simple Microscopes for Schools: Leveraging Hands-on Activities for Effective Science Engagement

For science engagement enthusiasts, have you ever wondered how to plan for simple, interactive activities with a broad reach of participants? Dr. Bob Goldstein, James L. Peacock III Distinguished Professor of Biology at UNC Chapel Hill, will share his experience using hand-made microscopes for science outreach.

In this webinar, Dr. Goldstein will introduce us to his curiosity-driven journey from smartphone-based magnifiers to hand-made microscopes. He will describe how he transitioned this activity from college lecture halls to elementary school classrooms, and the successes/challenges along the way. ASCB Public Engagement Grant awardees and team members, Dr. Quyen Aoh, Molly Gordon, and Dr. Kristin Kirschbaum, will join the second half of the webinar for a moderated panel discussion with live questions.

In this webinar, you will learn:

  • How to incorporate hands-on activities in science outreach
  • How to adapt science outreach activities to different groups of audiences
  • How to get funding for science engagement events with hands-on activities


Bob Goldstein is the James L. Peacock III Distinguished Professor of Biology at UNC Chapel Hill. He has developed workshops where elementary school teachers learn to build their own low-cost smartphone- or iPad-based microscopes. To date, this effort has built 540 low-cost microscopes, most for North Carolina public elementary schools in low-income regions of the state. The workshops also train other scientists to reproduce and further develop the effort in other regions of the country and in foreign schools. His lab uses C. elegans to discover fundamental mechanisms in cell and developmental biology, and they have developed tardigrades as an emerging model organism.


Quyen Aoh is an Associate Professor of Biology at Gannon University. While not researching her favorite proteins, the SCAMPs, she directs and leads the Feeding Minds and Families Afterschool STEM Program for urban youth in Erie, PA.

Molly Gordon is a PhD candidate at Johns Hopkins Medical Institute studying chromosome instability in Rong Li’s lab. Molly founded Science Outside the Lines, a science outreach program aimed at using art as a means of teaching STEM concepts to elementary students in the Baltimore city area. Working together with a local non-profit, Art with a Heart, Molly and team members have tied topics together ranging from Andy Warhol Pop Art inspired bacteria cultures to engineering space rovers out of recycled materials.

Kristin Kirschbaum originally wanted to become a Math and Chemistry teacher but got “trapped” into research, especially crystallography. She is happy to have found her ideal job, that allows her to do research and teaching as the Director of the Instrumentation Center at the University of Toledo.


Starts: October 28, 2021 1:00 pm EDT

Ends: October 28, 2021 2:00 pm EDT