Meet the guy who built a Lego microscope that actually works

Credit: Carl Merriam

As a kid, I enjoyed using a microscope to study at all kinds of bugs, microorganisms, and textures of random objects I found, but not all kids share the same enthusiasm for microscopes or science. Perhaps a Lego build like this could help.

Carl Merriam’s Lego Microscope not only looks the part, but it actually works. The idea came to Carl when he noticed that the pod to a Lego X-Pod kit resembled a petri dish, and he saw the microscope as a good challenge. The microscope took two years to complete—the lenses and focusing systems took the longest to build. Carl wanted it to work exactly like a real microscope lens, with multiple lenses and an adjustable focus dial.

The build required 750 parts—many of which weren't your standard Lego brick. Carl borrowed some parts from other sets, such as a Lego Light Brick and Lego fiber optic cable from dragon sets—these parts illuminate the stud in the eyepiece.

Carl Merriam
The microscope in all its glory (left) and a closeup of some of its inner workings.

Carl adds: “The eyepiece is made from three different sized concentric tires, two of which are turned inside out. Lego Technic turntables provide the planetary gear system that allows for both coarse and fine adjustment along one rotation point.”

Carl also thinks his love of science in general spurred along his idea: “Ever since I was a kid, [science] was what fascinated me the most. Between anatomy and physiology class in high school and biology in collage, I was around microscopes quite a bit.

“I think that Lego is a very powerful educational tool, and this microscope is no exception. There is a lot to learn while constructing it: gear ratios and planetary gearing, lenses, structural integrity, [and so on].”

The microscope is now listed on Lego Cuusoo, and Carl hopes to gain 10,000 supporters for his idea. If he does, Lego will consider turning the microscope into an actual set. You might not see Lego microscopes in an actual lab anytime soon, but this looks like a great way to get kids interested in science.

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