Young children using microscopes to see more

Hypolimnas misippus butterfly head photo by Muhammad Mahdi Karim

Hypolimnas misippus butterfly head photo by Muhammad Mahdi Karim

Magnifiers and microscopes can reveal small details that children otherwise might not notice. I would love to have a digital microscope in the classroom so children could really see the head of an insect such as a butterfly.
No happy face, no smile, no eyes with pupils and eyelashes but many other interesting structures —setae (hair), eyes, antennae, palpi (mouth parts), and proboscis (tongue-like organ for drinking nectar). For close-ups of an adult butterfly’s tiny body parts, see Monarch Watch’s Biology page.
I think it is useful for children to be able to both tell a story with their drawings—a butterfly with a happy face on a yummy flower—and to draw scientifically, as accurately as developmentally possible.
Display boxes make it easier to get a close up look.

Display boxes make it easier to get a close up look.

I have a collection of dead insects and others (anything small enough with mostly hard body parts that easily dry out). The children can look closely with a hand lens to see how ‘it really looks” without concern for themselves or for hurting a live animal.
If you raise and release butterflies, or see them in the schoolyard,  have your students talk about where the butterflies are going next and what  they might do. Encourage them to be as silly or scientific as they like. When  they go with scientific, ask them for evidence, such as, “What do you notice that suggests the butterfly is looking for food?”
Have magnifiers or digital microscopes supported student discovery in your classroom?   I’ll post images taken by your students using digital technology or other magnifiers–no children in the photos. Peggy, science is simple at yahoo dot com (no spaces).

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2 Responses to Young children using microscopes to see more

  1. video microscope says:

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  2. Peggy Ashbrook says:

    I’m interested in hearing from vendors and teachers who use digital microscopes about what features are designed, or work well, for children in preK-grade 2. What research and experiences help you choose a microscope for young children?
    I haven’t let the kindergarteners use the borrowed digital microscopes themselves, but they view the images and ask for particular views of the objects we examine.

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