Explore and Discover Microscopy for Kids with STEM Ambassador

In summary, Scott is looking for small items which demonstrate interesting/educational things, for kids to look at through microscopes. He suggests items like insects, phone touch screens, solar panels, and smoke alarms. He also suggests topics like ion transport in smoke alarms, thermal considerations with LEDs, and diffractive materials like fluorescent makeup. Schools would get some photos/posters to put up, then Scott and he would turn up with a trunk of scopes (schools would have some too) and a load of mounted specimens to look at.
  • #1
Hi. I'm a retired several-sciences guy, a STEM Ambassador encouraging kids to look at science, hopefully fostering interest.
I'm also interested in microscopy.
I/we are looking for ideas for small items which demonstrate interesting/educational things, for kids to look at through microscopes. I'm trying to get away from traditional pond life and random tissue samples.
This is for age 11-18 students. Item size around an inch, down to hair diameter size.
Schools would get some photos/posters to put up, then I/we turn up with a trunk of scopes (schools would have some too) and a load of mounted specimens to look at. I can make (focus-stacked) images for annotated descriptions. I can prepare section specimens of most things, and mount them in clear acrylic blocks.

Any branch of science -
all the sensors in a cell phone - accelerometer, compass, camera, microphone, vibrator, speaker,
LEDs and light sensors, section of the screen, & RGB,.
Gas sensors, pH probe, QI filament lamp showing recrystallization in the halogen cycle, heads on a hard drive, a sectioned battery, composite materials, ball pen tip, stomata on a leaf, scales on a butterfly wing, a stent (as in blood vessel), tip of a hypodermic needle,
credit card cut through showing the aerial and processor. Oh and bullets - new empty , and used, .22 shells.

The microscopy can use fluorescence or polarized light.
Anything else? If it ties up with regular school curriculum but is something other than they'd routinely look at (like mitosis in onions) so much the better. Medical is always interesting.

Perhaps you've seen pictures of things, which you could suggest?
Anything you'd like to see illustrated?
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  • #2
First thing that comes to mind is bugs - mosquitoes, grasshoppers, etc.
Different fabrics.
Their own fingers and finger nails.
Rocks, dirt, sand, asphalt
  • #3
Thanks for the reply Scott!
I should have emphasized that I'm looking for things which relate strongly to the schools' curriculum. The reason is that schools (teachers) are up to their eyeballs in teaching the exam stuff. It's really quite hard to get them to look at other things. So, fundamental principles, particularly.

Insects is a great idea, but sadly they don't spend much time at all on insects. There IS, so thanks for reminding me, attention to respiration generally, so spiracles on the sides of insects, caterpillars etc are relevant.
The butterfly scales directly show diffraction of light, which is what gives the color. Fly wings could show interference - except that most don't!

General pond critters for example, though fascinating for microscopists, hardly get a mention in school. It's tough to get past the teachers!

Things like phone touch screens aren't on the curriculum yet either, but with some effort, can be explained in a relevant way, and they are very familiar technology. Solar panels too maybe.

Asphalt - not sure - but it lead me to think of concrete - where a chemical reaction with cement sticks the mixture together - thanks that's going in!:smile:

Anyone think of a structure where ion transport is evident? Smoke alarms...?
  • #4
chrisr said:
I should have emphasized that I'm looking for things which relate strongly to the schools' curriculum.

You should reveal the school's curriculum in detail.
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  • #5
Well, as I say it's ages 11-18 so you'd probably guess right. I guess all the readers of this forum have been there ;).

It was harder to find a USA list than a British list, but Wikipedia has one:

Many of the sensors in cell phones are interesting when sliced through - G meters, sounders, microphones, the vibrator, the multi-frequency aerial.
Then there's the indium-containing touch screen, LiPo batteries.Power dissipation in the LED, and its differential coefficients of expansion between the plastic and the metal.
Compare the LED with a tungsten-halogen bulb, thermal considerations, with the addition of the re-crystallization of the filament as the tungsten condenses back on it in the "halogen cycle".
Sections though smoke alarm sensors (radioactive bits removed), gas sensor probes, pH sensor probe.
A sectioned bullet would entertain some boys and some fluorescent make-up with shimmering diffractive flakes, some girls.
If I can wrangle a gecko I could try to show the lamellae on its feet which stick to the ceiling using Van der Waal's forces, but they are rather small.
Car bulb:

Ideas anyone?

1. What is microscopy?

Microscopy is the science and technique of using microscopes to view objects that are too small to be seen with the naked eye. It involves the use of specialized tools and techniques to magnify and visualize objects at the microscopic level, allowing for a better understanding of their structure and function.

2. What can children learn from this STEM program?

Children can learn about the basics of microscopy, including how microscopes work, the different types of microscopes, and how to prepare and view specimens. They will also learn about the importance of microscopy in various fields of science, such as biology, chemistry, and materials science.

3. Who is the STEM Ambassador?

The STEM Ambassador is an experienced scientist or educator who is passionate about promoting science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education to children. They will lead the Explore and Discover Microscopy program, providing hands-on activities and demonstrations to engage and inspire young minds.

4. What age group is this program suitable for?

This program is suitable for children aged 8-12 years old. It is designed to be interactive and engaging, making it suitable for both younger and older children who are interested in science and microscopy.

5. Are there any safety precautions for children participating in this program?

Yes, safety is a top priority in this program. Children will be supervised by the STEM Ambassador at all times and will be provided with safety equipment, such as gloves and goggles, when handling specimens. All materials and tools used in the program will also be age-appropriate and safe for children to handle.

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