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Smartphone microscopes for interdisciplinary learning in schools

'EnLightenment: Build it, See it, Show it' designed and supplied smartphone microscope kits for more than 100 high schools across Scotland, with a focus on S1-S2 pupils. Funded by a Wellcome Trust people award, and supported by EPSRC and Heriot-Watt University, Enlightenment has been a huge success. The kits, provided to the schools for free and designed by the EnLightenment team, allowed pupils to explore the microscopic world down to the sub-cellular level using any standard smartphone.

Designed to work in parallel with the Scottish curriculum for excellence, the programme brought microscopy, physics, biology and technical principles to thousands of students across the country and supported this with a series of teacher and pupil resources and lesson plans. To maximize engagement, pupils entered a national imaging competition, uploading their best images to a custom open-access educational website. With over 500 entries, the website attracted over 20,000 unique page views.

Winning pupils, selected by an expert panel of scientists, artists and public engagement experts, were awarded prizes by Prof. Jim Al-Khalili at the closing ceremony of Illuminations in December 2015, following on from a launch event at Dynamic Earth, attended by 125 teachers. A series of public lectures and demonstrations, culminating in the largest of the Edinburgh International Conference Centre ‘Innovation Nation' series of talks, supported the programme, and brought the EnLightenment message to the widest possible audience.

For more information about the project, see the EnLightenment website. We are currently developing phase 2 of the programme, and hope to bring the microscopes to more schools from 2017 onwards.

Project Leads: Prof. Rory Duncan and Dr. Paul Dalgarno
Coordinator: Dr Laura Wicks
Funders: Wellcome Trust and EPSRC Impact Acceleration Account