Squeals of delight and disgust could be heard outside of Katie Allen’s Living Environment class at Henry H. Wells Middle School this week. Seventh graders were exploring slides and specimens for the first time using microscopes and stereoscopes — and they really enjoyed the experience.
“Did you see the skin cell? It was disgusting!” a student shouted with glee.
“Wait, he has a bed bug?!” another called across the classroom. “I need to take a picture of that!”
Before using the microscopes, Allen gave students a step-by-step introduction to the functions of its parts. Then, students practiced focusing their slides under low, medium and high power.
“Once they got the hang of it, I took out some stereoscopes so they could see the difference,” Allen said. “Light must be able to pass through a specimen to be seen under the microscope but you can see 3D images under the stereoscope.”
Students took turns practicing focusing with the microscopes and looking at 3D images.
“They found Lincoln in the Lincoln Memorial on the back of a penny, looked at how gross their AirPods are, examined the intricate skeleton of a piece of coral, the details of their fingerprints and more,” Allen said.
Students were amazed at what they were able to observe.
“I like how we can learn more about small things like cells and bugs by looking at them this way,” Jacinto Parraga said. “We don’t usually have a big view on them, but this lets us see them up close.”
Allen noted that students really enjoyed looking at the slides of insects like bed bugs, fruit flies and fleas.
“The slides showed how hairy they are and how they can stick to surfaces like Velcro,” she said. “Students were also surprised by how small the mammalian body cells were and are looking forward to learning how to prepare their own slides in the future.”