To explore the optics of your Cell Phone Miniscope, try reversing the orientation of the laser-pointer lens by flipping it over, so the side that was against the phone is now facing outward. Take another photo of something you photographed earlier. Did flipping the lens change the magnification and/or quality of the photo? Try putting the laser-pointer lens onto the camera lens on the screen side of your cell phone. How do the images compare?
For another optics experiment, try adjusting the zoom on your cell phone’s camera. Does changing the zoom change the magnification and/or the quality of the photo? You can also experiment by switching to video mode. Does this affect the magnification or quality of the images?
To measure your Cell Phone Miniscope’s field of view, zoom out as wide as you can and focus your camera on a metric ruler. How many millimeters fit across the screen? This measurement is the diameter of your field of view. Zoom in halfway. How many millimeters fit across the screen now? Finally, zoom in all the way, and determine the width of your field of view at this setting.
When you know the fields of view for your Cell Phone Miniscope, you can estimate the sizes of the things you see. For example, if your whole screen’s field of view is 4 mm wide, and 8 salt crystals fit across the screen, then the size of a salt crystal can be found by dividing 4 mm by 8 salt crystals, for an estimated size of 0.5 mm/salt crystal (see photo below).
For an engineering challenge, try designing and building a light box to use as a platform for viewing slides with a light source shining from below, similar to the setup of a typical compound light microscope. Some additional supplies that may be helpful include a push-button night light or small flashlight, popsicle sticks, straws, a take-out container with a clear lid, paper, tape, and other materials.
You can also challenge your estimation skills using data gathered from your Cell Phone Miniscope. For example, how many sugar granules cover a piece of sugar-coated candy?