Turn Your Phone into a Microscope

What if you need to look at something really small but you don’t have a microscope? You can can try taking a close-up picture with a smartphone or camera (use the ‘macro’ setting if it has one) and then magnify the image by zooming in on the picture using a PC or tablet screen.

Alternatively, we’re going to show you how to hack your phone to turn it into a microscope. You don’t need any technical skills or special equipment – just some honey!

Honey Lens Hack

You can buy magnifying lenses which are designed to sit over a phone camera lens, but our video shows you how to use a drop of honey as a temporary magnifying lens. You don’t need much, just these five things:

  • Scissors
  • Clear plastic packaging (e.g. plastic fruit carton)
  • Blu tak (or similar)
  • Teaspoon
  • Clear honey (if your honey has gone solid, the video shows you what to do to solve this)

You’ll probably need to experiment a bit with the size of honey drop you use exactly how far from the lens to position it to get the best image. With a little bit of practice you should be able to make a useful temporary magnifying lens.

We would love to hear how you get on, so please let us know using the Contact Us page, or by emailing us at hopelearning@oum.ox.ac.uk.

Cartooning with Chris

Here at Crunchy on the Outside we love insects and we also love cartoons. What could be better, then, than cartoon insects?!

In this video Chris Jarvis shows us how to draw a mighty dung beetle called the Minotaur Beetle (Typhaeus typhoeus) complete with its own ball of dung!

Minotaur beetles grow to about 2cm in length and can be seen between September and July. They live in grassland and heathland with sandy soils. They feed on rabbit droppings and other dung (yum!) which they roll into balls and bury them in nests which can be over a metre deep underground. Male beetles may defend these nests using their long horns. The females lay their eggs in these nests. The eggs then hatch and the larvae feed on the tasty dung!

Watch the video carefully and you will see that Chris has included many of the key features of this fascinating beetle. He has deliberately left one insect feature out of his drawing. Can you spot what is missing? Here’s a clue: they help insects sense their environment.

Let us know what you think is missing by commenting below, or sending us a message using the Contact Us page. We’d also love to see you own cartoon insects!

Butterfly Origami

Have a go at making an origami butterfly. Origami is the art of folding paper into shapes and decorations, that originated in Japan. All you need to make this origami butterfly is a square piece of paper and a spare few minutes:

Here are written instructions for making the origami butterfly, in addition to the video:

  1. Take a square piece of paper. Fold it diagonally, press along the fold, and unfold. Repeat the other way.
  2. Turn the piece of paper over. Fold the bottom edge to the top edge, press along the fold, and unfold. Fold the left edge to the right edge, press along the fold, and unfold.
  3. Fold the left edge to the right edge, allowing the other edges to fold inward along the creases. This will form a triangle shape.
  4. Fold the top layer from both bottom corners of the triangle towards the top corner, but each slightly to either side of that top corner. Press along the creases.
  5. Fold the bottom layer from the top of the triangle towards the bottom flat edge, so that it overlaps a little, and fold it over. Press carefully along the crease, as the bottom “wings” will be drawn up.
  6. Press along the middle crease to help keep the fold over in place.

We would love to see pictures of your creations, please do share them with us.