Using the Foldscope

1. Foldscope Assembly - do you have step by step video instructions?
Yes, we do! Here are links to our official Foldscope video tutorials, which can also be found under the Tutorials menu tab.

2. How do I focus? (Samples appearing blurry / unclear / cannot see sample)

  • Firstly, just like any scientific instrument; the Foldscope needs to be assembled correctly to function. Please refer to videos above to ensure that your Foldscope is correctly assembled.

  • Secondly, the correct assembly and use of the “focus ramp” is critical. The focus ramp is, as the name reveals, a ramp that is thick on one side and thin on the other. Sliding the focus ramp from left to right changes the distance of the lens from the sample, enabling focus. Start at the lowest focus, the thin side of the ramp, and push toward the thick side while viewing your sample until clarity is achieved.

  • Thirdly, make sure you are viewing objects that are translucent, or allow light through. Completely opaque objects can not be viewed using transmission light microscopy.

3. I don't seem to have or can't find my lenses.

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 a square shaped piece, 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. But do not fret! Simply separate the pieces and you are ready to assemble. (Video here: Magnetic Couplers & Lenses). 

4. I have a missing part in my kit, or a broken Foldscope piece. 

We do extensive quality testing, but rarely if a piece is missing or damged, we will send a replacement part! Please fill out this form. This will ensure that we properly log your request. The form requires your shipping address information and the batch code for your Foldscope. We apologize for the inconvenience for this extra step.

5. Do I need a camera phone to use the Foldscope?

Our design philosophy is to bring the microscopic world to every kid in this world. Thus Foldscope is designed to be an independent instrument and does not require a cellphone to use.

Having said that - Foldscopes work fantastically when coupled to phones/ iPads/ recording devices. Learn how to collect photo and video data here Foldscope Viewing: With Your Phone Camera. Note: for iPhone 10 users, place the coupler over the phone's "main" camera. 

Note, when you do want to couple to your phone, you simply use the camera app on your phone to capture images.

6. What ages can use Foldscope? 

Foldscope has been enjoyed by users across all ages! We suggest 8 years and up, but anyone with a passion for science (and supervision for younger explorers) can use Foldscope.

Foldscope is made out of high strength, plastic coated paper, yielding great durability and resistance to damage. It can be used for both the simplest observations and for thorough scientific studies, and all places in between.

7. I seem to have seen a new life form - What is it? What do I do next?

Discovery is an integral part of exploration. The capability for literally “anyone" to make new observations and explore the microscopic world is the reason we built this tool.

  • The first step in discovery is share and document the observation.

  • Please register and share your explorations - big or small - whatever it is; with the community

  • 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. With so many new discoveries starting to arise (300,000 foldscope explorers walking around the world making observations) - we will be soon starting a species discovery program. Hear more about this in the near future.


1. Can I buy Foldscopes?

Yes! Our products are available now on our store and Amazon. Don't be fooled by imitations!

2. How can I purchase large numbers of Foldscopes (for instance for an entire school, school district, NGO, etc.)?

Aside from our Classroom Kit offerings, for these types of orders please contact us at for contract pricing.

3. How can I buy accessories for the Foldscope?

Accessories come with the Deluxe Kits.  The Large Classroom Kit comes with 20 sets of accessories for 100 Foldscopes. We plan to offer accessory packs in the future.

4. Where do you ship?

We are currently shipping worldwide; order through our store or Amazon. Please, inquire about purchase orders by contacting us directly

For more details on international shipping, please read “International Shipping Information” on our store page.

5. Refunds (US orders only)

First, we're sorry to hear you don't want your Foldscope!  Please see our video tutorials on ways you can use it - maybe you just need some help?!

(US orders only) If you are not 100% satisfied with your purchase, you can return the product and get a refund for the product cost (Shipping cost is non-refundable). You may get a refund within 30 days of receipt of product. You must return the product to us at your own cost and provide tracking information to us. When we receive it we will then issue the refund.

We do not accept returns for orders outside of the US.

6. I am a distributor of devices/toys etc. and would love to bring this tool to my community. 

We are looking for partners to engage to bring Foldscope (with the vision of affordable science) to communities around the world. Please write to - Director of Sales with your ideas. 

7. How do I support Foldscope’s vision of affordable science for everyone? 

We are very thankful for the community support we receive. This is the only way we can bring affordable scientific tools to everyone (not just communities who have the resources - but everyone).

You can directly support our mission through the purchase of a Deluxe Individual Kit or a donation.

Deluxe kits provide an individual with everything they need to start exploring (cell separation tools, microfluidics, and dark field and phase contrast modules). Not only are these kits fantastic to help you get the most out of your Foldscope,  but their proceeds directly subsidize our extremely economical option: classroom kits.

Classroom kits are designed for educators, humanitarian projects, and causes looking to cater to large groups of explorers. Thanks to the proceeds of Deluxe Individual Kits, we are able to bring the costs of classrooms kits down to $1.75 per Foldscope in large scale.


1. What is the optical performance of Foldscope?

Currently, Foldscope uses a 2.38 mm borosilicate glass lens, which provides 140x magnification and 2 micron resolution. This is sufficient to distinguish red blood cells and even watch live bacteria. 

2. What can you see with the Foldscope?

So much! See for yourself on our Microcosmos community website. Foldscope can be used to observe biological samples like bacteria, copepods, tardigrades, tetrahymena, diatoms, rotifers, nematodes, spider eggs, ants, vorticella, mites, daphnia...pretty much anything you can stick on a slide.

Foldscope can also allow the observation of non-biological samples, such as particulates detrimental to air quality, or the microscopic crystalline differences between real and fake medications. Despite a number of amazing applications already demonstrated, we know there is so much untapped potential. Make the journey your own!


1. What is the global reach of Foldscope?

As of early 2019 we distributed over 500,000 Foldscope units to 135+ countries, building a community of users around the world.  As a globally focused organization, we hope to democratize access to science across resource-rich and resource-poor areas, and to uncover the amazing biodiversity of the entire world. Since we started selling Foldscopes we continue to distribute broadly and distribute hundreds of Foldscopes around the world each month.

2. What is the Foldscope community?

We believe that the most important aspect of our company is not the tool itself, but the communities that use them. By broadening access to scientific tools, we have seen an incredible diversity of applications for Foldscope, many of which we could not have ever foreseen. The Foldscope community spans many countries, many ages, and many levels of scientific background. Our members share their experiences together in the Microcosmos.