This would seem to be a rewarding project and for you teachers out there, the researchers say that “a preliminary study with 8 students in the age range of 9–13 shows that the understanding of microscopy increases after working with the LEGO microscope.”
What do you get when you combine an iPhone 5 camera module with LEGO? According to German researchers, the combination can create an affordable high-resolution microscope that kids can build. A paper written by the three German researchers (via DPReview) includes plenty of details about the project including a list of the parts you’ll need.
The researchers, Bart E. Vos, Emil Betz Blesa and Timo Betz, said, “Our aim is to introduce a microscope to individual students in a classroom setting, both as a scientific tool to access the micro-world and to facilitate the understanding of fundamental principles of the optical components of a microscope in a playful and motivating, yet precise approach. By basing the design on LEGO, we aim to make the microscope modular, cheap, and inspiring.”
The price to build the microscope came to €102 (which converts to $121 U.S. Dollars at current exchange rates). That includes the cost of the iPhone 5 lens which the researchers were able to obtain for $5. And the documentation is available online for the low, low price of free.