teaching microscope use

Microscope Mania



I had deliberated the “e” task, thinking it was cheesy.  In the past I’ve jumped right into “real” organisms.  However, today I decided to start with the “e”, mostly to help the students with the instrument and understanding the orientation.

The room was BUZZING.  It was a deluge of energy and enthusiasm.  The happiest eleven and twelve year olds fervently focused on their task.  Seriously?  They were looking at the letter “e” under a light microscope.

“Now, this is truly amazing” one boy apprises me.

After they sufficiently thrill at the result of increased magnification, make their drawings, and comment on the orientation of the “e” in the lens relative to its position on the stage, it’s time to move on to hair.

Students eagerly tug at their hair pulling out single strands.    OK, one student grabs a pair of scissors and assembles quite a pile of hair on the lab bench.  No comment on that one.  The student pairs place their two strands of hair on the slides for comparison.

“This is AWESOME!”

“John’s hair looks like a tree trunk and mine looks like a glass rod!”  The entire class rushes to the microscope to view this incredible discovery.  The buzzing excitement rages on.

More drawings and observations.  Then, on to the preparation of onion skin slides.  Of course, each student is allowed to prepare his/her own slide and that is simply sensational.

“Wait, just one drop of iodine?”

“How do we tap the bubbles out?”

“Are these bubbles?”

Then, the discovery of onion cells!  “Those are all cells?”  “We can see the nucleus?!?!?!”  “This is SO AWESOME!”

Truly, there is nothing more satisfying than middle school enthusiasm.  I just love days like today.