Students of all ages can benefit from exploration with microscopes. These scientific investigations help kids and adults expand their appreciation of the natural world and better understand the amazing anatomy of common insects and the fascinating structures that underly ordinary materials such as salt.
After an introduction to using microscopes in elementary and middle school, high school students are ready to take on more sophisticated scientific observations.
Since STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and math, why not organize microscopic explorations around those broad themes? Whether you teach science, engineering, or math, there are plenty of opportunities to come up with microscope-based activities for your students. Here are four microscope-based STEM activities for teenage students to try.
Biology students can use microscopes to examine drops of human and animal blood and contrast them with bone cells, human and animal hair, or skin cells. Chemistry students can observe cookie dough on a microscopic level before and after adding baking soda and record the differences they observe. Physics students can perform a microscopic analysis of how force, heat, or cold alters various materials.
Some teenage students have an encyclopedic knowledge of how computers and the software that runs them work. Others are great technology users but have no inkling of how devices work. Students can take a microscopic view of sections of defunct circuit boards and try to determine where the fatal defect occurred. Similarly, they can look under the microscope at the different types of glass that form the fronts of their phones. Another option is to compare different types of wire, from copper to steel to aluminum, and note any microscopic differences in structure.
On September 19, 2022, The Washington Post reported that scientists had calculated the number of antson planet Earth and their estimated total weight (20 quadrillion and 12 megatons of dried carbon, respectively, which would translate to a greater weight than all wild birds and mammals combined!).
Students can create a version of this calculation by determining the number of organisms present in aquarium water, bacteria on a sponge, or salt crystals in a salt shaker after viewing them in a microscope.
STEM education is important to our collective future. Microscope kits for teenagers help students and adults of all ages develop the observational, analytical, and technical skills needed to face future challenges with curiosity and creativity.