In Fun With Microscopes I we learned a little about how a microscope works by bending light in the lens to make an image larger, and that we can take photographs of the object through the eyepiece. In this post, I’ll show you how to attach insects and larger specimens to the base of the microscope for better viewing, and also how to use the Microscope Journal used in this post. It can be inexpensively purchased in my shop. This journal is used extensively in the classroom and by homeschoolers. It also includes a section to learn about and label the parts of a microscope, a how-to guide, and lots of pages for you to fill with microscope sketches and descriptions.
Please note that I would never kill an animal for the use of science. I always thank the spirit or essence of the animal for allowing us to use it to learn more about it’s nature.
The students are also instructed to show this kind of respect.
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1. insect (we used a dead bumblebee we found outside)
3. super glue
7.light microscope, Magiscope, or something similar (we used a Magiscope)
Break your toothpick in half, and roll up a small ball of clay.
Add super glue to the end of the toothpick, press it onto a crease on the bottom of the insect’s abdomen, and hold until the glue dries completely.
Once the glue is dry, you can squish the clay ball to the other end of the toothpick.
Place the insect underneath the objective lens while looking through the viewfinder to find the spot on the insect that you would like to observe. We chose the compound eyes, since we have been talking about magnification, refraction, and reflection through lenses. Squish the clay onto the base so that the insect does not move from it’s location.
Observe the absolute beauty with as much fascination as one can muster! Amazing stuff!!
When you feel comfortable, grab your pencil and begin to sketch, with intention, the part you are observing. Using the whole sketch circle as though you are looking at it from the lens. Do the best you can in sketching. As I note in the How To Use This Journal guide, start with the most obvious parts and go from there… and do your best, knowing that the sketch may not look exactly like what you see under the microscope.
I always encourage the child to go back and forth from the eyepiece to the sketch so that the image is always fresh.
Once the child is finished, she can fill in the remaining parts, such as the title (or name of specimen) and the date viewed. Finally, the child will describe in words what she sees through the eyepiece. This is a great mini-lesson in adjectives. Describe what you see… what color is it? Is it shiny or dull? Is it fuzzy or smooth? I don’t expect a thesis, but I would like 2-5 descriptive words depending on the age and level of the child.
Next we wanted to sketch a tiger shark tooth we found on the beach. We took another small ball of clay and smooshed it to the bottom, then placed it under the objective lens until we found a place on the tooth we wanted to observe. In this case, we decided to observe the serrated edges (yet another great time for vocabulary!). We squished it onto the base.
Then once the child was ready, she began her sketch of the shark tooth edge.
Finally, the seven year old described what she saw in the describe it section.
HAVE FUN with microscopes, but make sure the child treats it with respect. This will further their interest in science and awareness for all things.
Please visit Fun With Microscopes I for a different perspective.
Click HERE for the Microscope Journal.