Having trouble with assembly? Want some help getting started? You’re in the right place!

Looking for a copy of our written manual included with every Foldscope? You can find the English-language version here! For instructions in other languages, check out the Translations tab!

Below are a variety of video and written tutorials to help you get the most of your Foldscope experience. These videos, and more (like translated tutorials & recaps of our workshops and events), can be found on our YouTube Channel. Subscribe to keep up!


We believe that the most important part of our company is not the tools themselves, but the communities that use them.

The Microcosmos is the collective term we use for our community of explorers & our online platform. On the Microcosmos site, microcosmos.foldscope.com, users from around the world connect, share their observations, ideas, and problems!

It is a place to collaborate, find inspiration, and learn from fellow explorers. With over half a million Foldscopes distributed to date, it is quite the far-reaching and fascinatingly diverse community.



Learn how to assemble your Foldscope.


Learn how to register on our community website, Microcosmos, and start sharing your discovery with fellow Foldscoper users around the world!


Learn how to geotag your existing Microcosmos posts so that you can keep track of where you have been exploring.



Learn how to prepare your microscope slides.


Learn how to insert microscope slides into a Foldscope.



Learn how to view specimens directly with your eye!

Lesson Plans

Foldscope Lesson Plans are detailed step-by-step guides to help people learn and explore with Foldscope!

Prepared Slide Box Set Lessons

Note: The lesson plans below are designed to correspond with our Foldscope Prepared Slide Box Sets #1-3. The content of these lessons does make specific references to slides found in our slide sets, and therefore without our slide sets the activities may be more difficult to follow. However, we want to emphasize the general information in these lessons can still be used without our slide sets, or they can be used with other prepared slide sets.

To purchase our slide box sets, visit our store!


Animal Tissues & Cells

Online only

This lesson plan corresponds to the Foldscope Prepared Slide Box Set #1 – Animal Tissues & Cells. In this lesson, students will understand the organizational levels of animal tissue and cells, with activities that cover tissue types, tissue development, and how to apply this knowledge to a fresh (non-prepared) tissue sample.

FREE Download – Animal Tissues & Cells



Plants & Insects

Online only

This lesson plan corresponds to the Foldscope Prepared Slide Box Set #2 – Plants & Insects. In this lesson, students will understand the plant and insect dynamics, with activities that cover plant reproduction, pollinators, and how to apply this knowledge to a fresh (non-prepared) flower sample.

FREE Download – Plants & Insects



Microbes & Macroinvertebrates

Online only

This lesson plan corresponds to the Foldscope Prepared Slide Box Set #3 – Microbes & Macroinvertebrates. In this lesson, students will understand the plant and insect dynamics, with activities that cover prokaryotes vs eukaryotes, unicellular vs multicellular organisms, kingdoms and types of life, and how to apply this knowledge to fresh (non-prepared) soil and water samples.

FREE Download – Microbes & Macroinvertebrates



More lesson plans coming soon!

Online User Guide

Welcome to Foldscope’s online user guide! This page contains many tips and tricks to help you use your Foldscope. Click the buttons below to jump to a specific section on this page. If are still looking for assistance after this page, visit our tutorials page for our full collection of video resources!


  • Magnification: 140x

  • Resolution: 2 microns

  • Back focal length: 0.56 mm

  • Depth of field: 0.0136 mm

  • Field of view: 0.514 mm (diagonal radius)


  • A microscope consists of three essential components: a sample, a lens, and a light source. The sample, or specimen, is what you’re looking at in your microscope. The lens is what magnifies the sample– it makes it look larger by bending the light you see.

  • Resolution is a measure of how clearly you can see things in a microscope. The resolution of a lens is the size of the smallest feature you can distinguish when looking through it. Foldscope’s resolution is 2 microns, which is about the length of an E. coli bacterium. One micron is 0.0001 cm. 

  • Most microscopes you might use in a classroom or laboratory are compound light microscopes. This means that their lenses are made of multiple pieces of curved glass, each piece similar to an eyeglass lens. In Foldscopes, our lens is a single glass ball. This is the same type of lens used in the very first microscope made by Antony van Leeuwenhoek in the 1600s!

  • In Foldscope, as in most microscopes, it’s easiest to view a sample when it’s mounted on a slide, a flat rectangle that holds your specimen. Slides provide a stiff base for the sample and keep it secure for viewing. Slides are traditionally made of glass, but Foldscope can also be used with slides made of paper.

  • A light source is important for illuminating the sample. In transmissive light microscopy, the light shines through the sample. This is the type of microscopy that Foldscope uses: the sample is in between the light source and the lens. Transmissive light microscopy is very effective for viewing samples that are thin and translucent, as the sample is only visible if it allows light through to the lens.

  • Every microscope has a set focal length: the distance at which something viewed through the lens looks clear and crisp, not blurry. In a standard 140x Foldscope lens, the back focal length is 0.56 millimeters, about the thickness of 5 sheets of paper. This means that a Foldscope sample must be only 0.56 millimeters away from the lens to be viewed clearly– so close it’s almost touching! This flatness is one reason Jim and Manu thought that paper would be a good material for building a microscope with this lens. When you focus a microscope, you move the sample farther or nearer to the lens until it is the right distance away. A sample that is out of focus will appear blurry.

  • Depth of field is the thickness of your sample appears in focus at the focal length. When you adjust the focus, the depth of field is like a three-dimensional window that moves forward and backward through the sample, and everything within the window’s thickness appears clear. Foldscope’s depth of field is 13.6 microns, which is 0.0136 millimeters.

  • Think about making a circle with your hand and looking through it with one eye– you will only be able to see a small circle, but moving your head will let you see different things in that circle! This circle is called your field of view. Just like looking through your curled hand, all microscopes have a limited field of view: the lens allows you to see only a small area of any sample at one time. Moving your field of view is called panning. For a microscope, that means moving the sample relative to the lens, placing different areas of the sample beneath the lens.


Most frequent questions and answers
  • Firstly make sure that you’re using the focus ramp (component A4) properly! The focus ramp is, as the name suggests, a ramp that is thick on one end and thin on the other. Sliding the focus ramp from left to right changes the distance from the lens from the sample, shifting the focus. To start at the lowest focus, put the thin side of the ramp between the lens and the sample. To adjust focus, push toward the thick side while viewing your sample until you can see the sample clearly.
  • Secondly, make sure you are viewing objects that are translucent, or allow light through. Completely opaque objects can not be viewed using transmission light microscopy.

  • Third, errors in the assembly process can result in difficulty focusing. Please review the videos above to ensure you have properly built your Foldscope.

  • If these tips do not improve focus, please email foldscopemalaysiainfo@gmail.com and we’ll do the best we can to help you!

Lenes & Couplers-01.jpg

The lens piece is a small circular item, composed of a tiny glass bead held within a black plastic ring and a silver magnetic ring. Magnetic couplers are square shaped pieces, composed of black plastic with small holes along one side, a large hole in the center, and a silver magnetic ring.

Due to their magnetic attraction, lenses and couplers will be stuck together in a stack when you receive your kit. This is normal! Simply separate the pieces and you are ready to assemble. (Video here: Magnetic Couplers & Lenses). 

We do extensive quality testing, but in the rare event a piece is missing or damaged, we will send a replacement part! 

Our design philosophy is to bring the microscopic world to every child worldwide. Thus, the Foldscope is designed to be an independent instrument and does not require a phone to use.

Having said that – Foldscopes work fantastically when coupled to phones/iPads/ recording devices. No special app is required- your standard camera application will suffice! Learn how to collect photo and video data here: FoldscopeViewing: With Your Phone Camera.

(Note: for iPhone X series users, place the coupler over the camera located closest to the top of the phone.)

Foldscope has been enjoyed by users across all ages! Due to legal regulations relating to choking hazards, we officially recommend the product for ages 8 and up. However, with adult supervision, younger science enthusiasts can also enjoy the Foldscope!

The Foldscope is made out of high-strength, plastic-coated paper, making it sturdy and durable. It can be used for both the simplest observations and for thorough scientific studies, and all places in between.

Discovery is an integral part of exploration. We built this tool so that anyone could make new discoveries while exploring the microscopic world.

  • The first step in discovery is sharing and documenting the observation. Please document as much about your discovery as you can.

  • Please register and share your explorations with the rest of the Foldscope community at https://microcosmos.foldscope.com.

  • You will be given a DOI number – which makes your observation citable and archived forever with your name. This is a community website with standard Creative Commons license.

Translations & More!

Our materials are now available in various formats in over 21 languages!

To download the English-language version of our written instructions included with every Foldscope, click here!


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