Thursday, January 6, 2011

Fun with a microscope camera

You can tell kids that plants are alive, and they nod and write it down in their notebooks, then get on with their lives. Their notebooks reflect what the system tells them, not what they believe.

You can show pictures of chloroplasts, and they nod and draw them in their notebooks, then get on with their lives. There's no reason to invest a whole lot of thought in plants.

Or you can project the cytoplasmic streaming of an elodea leaf, sitting on a microscope on your desk.

"That's a video, right...?"
No, that's what's happening under that microscope

"That's the leaf? You mean, like, it's alive?"

To a child (or most adults), if it doesn't move, it's not alive.
And on some days, even this cranky old biology teacher feels the same way.

Their faces lit up as though they were watching fireworks.

We had the added bonus of seeing the chloroplasts change shape as they muddled through the cell. Watching the chloroplasts scrunch up as they hit the corner of a cell wall, bending like the water balloons they are, shows just how squiggly membranes are.

Seeing the chloroplasts live makes it real.

Not sure anybody wrote anything in their notebooks about what they saw--no need to. It's part of their lives.

The video was posted by on YouTube by pphotoex. His (her?) blog is in Japanese.

I am going to set the microscope camera out every day now --
I'm smacking myself on the head.
Such a simple idea, with a huge return.


Sue VanHattum said...

There's the technology that belongs in the classroom! Lovely.

doyle said...

Dear Sue,

So true! It took this Luddite over an hour to get it going, exchanging the camera, and when that didn't work, opening up a brand new DVD/VCR player.

That didn't work, either.

Reading the directions and finding a loose cable, though, worked like a charm!

I am wondering if teaching children the finer points of using microscopes makes any sense. I'm available at all kinds of hours to teach anyone who has an interest in it (and a few always do), but the ones who are interested hardly need to be taught. They figure it out.

The camera is a nice compromise--the kids can see the specimen on the stage, they can look directly into the scope if they'd like, and the set-up makes the whole thing more real, because, well, it is real.

Dina said...

Love it, love it, love it.

doyle said...

Dear Dina,

I've been ruminating on your post on Technology, Place, and Teaching for some time now--I keep not responding because I am having a difficult time trying to grasp even a sliver of light on what the globalists see.

Crudely reduced, I think some of us live in a finite world defined by cycles, others live in an infinite world where anything is possible.

I fall in the mortal camp--your words here mean a whole lot to those of us who feel like we're yipping at an electronic, abstract, all-too-human ocean of giddiness.

Rachel said...

That is SO COOL. Wish I'd seen something like that when I was in school, maybe I'd have gotten into biology more!