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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Microscopes with Rod

We are lucky enough to have a lot of very talented people out here on our little isle. Whenever possible we try to take advantage of... ahem, showcase them and their talents. This year we hit the ground running and on the second day of school, we were excited to have Rod Bost come in as a guest teacher. Rod is retired from teaching now, but has spent his career working with gifted high schoolers, teachers and college students in North Carolina. He is a scientist, specializing in recombinant DNA, and when he wasn't teaching, he was working in the lab. How awesome is that!? I know, I know, my scientific lingo bedazzles you.
Well, it just so happens that we purchased FOUR new microscopes to prepare for our work with phytoplankton and water bears (tardigrades). Rod talked with us about the work that we'd be doing and suggested an in-depth lesson on microscopes. Fantastic! We jumped at the chance.
Rod went over all the parts of the microscope and the terminology sunk in quickly with the kids. He's published an article about how people learn vocabulary and this sort of immersion is the best way to learn new things. My poor Word Wall might have to go the way of the dodo. The kids were able to point out the different parts right away, and tell their use. Then it was time to get our hands dirty!
Here's Cadin preparing a wet mount. Every student got a chance to make their own slides and we looked at the lower case letter 'e' under the microscope.
Cutting the tiny 'e' out of the newspaper was the hardest part!
After preparing our slides, Rod took us through the process of placing the slides on the stage, or flat part of the microscope, and securing it with the stage clips. We had learned to set up the microscopes by putting it on the lowest power objective, then bringing the stage all the way up, with the course and fine focus nobs turned all the way back towards ourselves. This way, you are always in the process of lowering the stage, so you never get the problem of cracked slides or scratched lenses when you switch to a higher power. Brilliant.

We also have a nifty bit of technology that attaches a camera onto the microscope and projects it up to a screen. This way, we can model what is being seen for the kids as a group. I can see using this little beauty a LOT this year.
It was all microscope exploration for an hour. I would have killed for this as a kid! So great!
We had a little fun.
And learned a ton.
Thanks for the great lesson Rod! Can't wait for the next one!

1 comment:

  1. The microscopes are such an asset in your class room. Having your guest, Rod Bost, was also a treasured resource for the kids. Love the photos - little professional scientists of the future perhaps?