Saturday, December 6, 2008

A Simple Way to see Tiny Things

My class has been learning about rocks and minerals. I made "mock" rocks so that each student could break a rock down into smaller "minerals". First they broke apart the mock rocks into red gravel, blue gravel, oyster shells, and a powdery "other stuff".

It was easy to see the "minerals" that made up the rock, but they weren't sure what the other stuff was. So we put it in water and overnight some sediment has settled on the bottom.

However the water was cloudy so the water was placed into cups and evaporated. When the water was gone some cystals had grown on the bottom of the cup. We had sheets that showed different types of crystals and the students were able to identify the crystals as salt crystals. We looked at some of the salt crystals under my digital microscope and were able to see them more clearly. Here are a few of the photos we took.

After leaving the crystals out for a bit it seemed we had some "life" starting to grow under the microscope!

The digital microscope I use in my class is called the Intel Play QX3 and it easily hooks up to a computer through the usb port. The software is fun and allows you to see things at 10x, 60x, and 200x the normal size. You can take pictures, movies, or time lapse photography and then for fun play around with the pictures and add things like little salamanders or other creepy things that kids seem to like (see picture above). The class always enjoys seeing close up photos of their eyeballs, skin, or the fabric of their clothes. Anything tiny is fun to look at with this microscope. It is a wonderful and fun tool to have in the classroom. Here is the microscope that I use:

This looks like a lower cost way to do the same thing:

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