3D printed smartphone microscopes

In this project, students were challenged to create a 3D printed microscope using CAD software for use with a smart phone.  Their designs were supported by the Design Thinking model. (Empathize – Define – Ideate – Prototype – Test)

Their design criteria was as follows:

  • Must be able to support any brand smartphone using minimal plastic
  • Lens must be housed
  • Microscope must be structurally sound
  • Additional supplies will be provided to build your microscope, but you are limited to the following maximums
    • 3 carriage bolts
    • 6 nuts
    • 2 wing nuts
    • 1 laser pointer focus lens

Students created plans to support their ideas, brainstorming with their collaborators and conferencing with their teacher.
Screen Shot 2017-03-16 at 10.44.10 AM

Then using Tinkercad, they created their designs for printing, redesigning as necessary.

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Microscope components were printed, assembled and tested.  Redesigns were on-going when necessary.  

Screen Shot 2017-03-16 at 10.44.30 AM

After printing and testing, students needed to calculate the magnification of their microscope.

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Curriculum Connections:  This task, when modified, can have possible connections to many areas of the Alberta Program of Studies.  For example:

  • Grade 7 Science – Structures and Forces
  • Grade 8 Science – Cells and Systems
  • Grade 9 Math – Shape and Space
  • Language Arts – Communication and Technical Writing

Assessment Criteria

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Special thanks to Heather Scott for this project idea!