Rotary seeking support to send more Foldscopes to Ecuador

Above: Rotary members have donated over 100 paper microscopes to inspire students to explore science in Ecuador. They are hoping the community will help them send more. (photo contributed)

Southborough Rotary Club is looking for donations to help with one of their charitable projects. This time, they are working to donate scientific educational materials to students in South America.

Last December, I shared that Southborough Rotary Club was working on a project to send “Foldscopes” to Ecuador. Foldscopes are “paper microscopes” that can be assembled from simple kits. 

The inventors were inspired by “visits to field stations where they continually encountered bulky, broken microscopes, or a lack of microscopes entirely. As traditional microscopes are often expensive or cumbersome, they realized the universal scale of this problem and the need for a low-cost, revolutionary solution.”

Rotary’s initiative to donate the materials to students in Ecuador began the winter of 2019-2020. The pandemic delayed the rollout, but they were able move forward this year. As of this month the local Rotary club has made two shipments consisting of over 100 Foldscopes to educators in Ecuador for use in science classes.

Now Rotary is reaching out to the community to support continuing the effort:

Do you know where Ecuador is located? Can you find it on a map? Would you like to help impoverished Ecuadorian children become excited about science and possibly change their lives? Southborough’s local Rotary Club has launched an initiative to bring the wonder and inspiration of science to children in the mangrove swamps of Ecuador using low cost microscopes and you can help. Working with a local Rotary Club in Ecuador, our club has recently started shipment of inexpensive “Foldscopes” to remote schools in the Ecuadorian

flood plains. These devices give students their first chance to see the hidden microscopic world around therm and inspire them to learn more. As stated by the Foldscope Instruments website, their mission is “to make science and STEM education equitable and accessible for everyone. At Foldscope Instruments Inc, we provide innovative and powerful low-cost tools, educational services, and online community platforms”. . .

[The donated Foldscopes] have been greatly appreciated, but the need for more help is there. Considering these devices cost $3.50 each, they provide an amazing window into the microscopic world for children living in poverty. Have you ever had the thrill of seeing a living cell under a microscope? You might want to help share that experience. . .

The most direct way to help is to make a donation so our Rotary Club can purchase and ship more of these devices. If you are a student, scout or member of organization who wants to join our effort, our Rotary Club will help you organize a fund raising effort or help with supplying these devices.

Interested? Contact us by either sending an email message to or call/text 774 249-3555. If you would like to make a donation, our Post Office address is PO Box 391, Southborough, MA 01771.

The Rotary’s message also included a thank you “to the officials at the Southborough Post Office for helping us negotiate through the postal regulations and tariff restrictions that needed to be satisfied during shipment of these initial devices.”

You can check out a video produced in Ecuador by FUCOBI (Foundation for the Conservation of Aquatic and Terrestrial Biodiversity) about their project partnership with Southborough Rotary and the Rotary of Ambato (in Ecuador): 

You can also learn more about Foldscopes here. And the Rotary encourages:

If the unseen world under a microscope captures your imagination and you would like a guided tour, check out the Youtube channel called “Journey to theMicrocosmos”. Go Tardigrades!

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