For $4, cash-strapped schools in India can buy a simple, bamboo microscope that will introduce their students to an absolutely essential, but typically expensive scientific tool. The device, which uses a 20x lens, was conceived by a non-profit called Jodo Gyan. Members of the group, which is a low-budget affair itself, carve the microscopes themselves. They've put together about 2,500 so far, and sell them for about what they cost to make.
Now, if the One Laptop Per Child effort has any success in India, these resource-deprived kids could have a real chance at a decent education. Who knows, a bamboo microscope and an Internet-enabled notebook might even turn up another Ramanujan.—Gregory Mone