Friday, 7 October 2011

Exploring Cells with the Digital Microscopes

A recent project with our great group of Grade 6 science students focused on using our 14 Digital Microscopes to explore cells. The students spent time learning about cells, preparing slides and understanding how traditional microscopes work. This learning was supported by using the new Science eBook "Exploring Science"


We used the Motic Digital Microscopes to take the students skill development and understanding a step further. Instead of drawing pictures of what they saw down the traditional microscope we could plug the microscopes into the students laptops and they could quickly analyze and compare the different cell structures of animals and plants. This is a nice understanding of transformative learning, where students are using technology to do something that was inconceivable a few years ago and where technology adds value to the teaching and learning.

Lesson Plan - Cell Structures and Digital Microscopes

Reflection

Students remarked how easy it was to plug and the capture images, and they were impressed with the quality of the images. The important step was having the students articulate what they saw to explain the differences in cells. Across the ten different classes this was done slightly differently but students liked the idea of using a simple template and table below.


Teachers were happy with the flow of the lesson and are now confident to help students use the microscopes in class. In the future we need to look a few different things. We could look at purchasing some more digital microscopes so they can be used in different science classes when more students have laptops next year. We could also look at converting some of the traditional microscopes with a digital camera, and how much this would cost. The optics in most of the traditional microscopes are better the Digital Motic Microscopes. As a digital literacy coach I focused on the need for students to do something with the images and to really understand what the images were showing them. Although lots of the draft captured images looked attractive, they actually showed air bubbles, crumpled slides or onion or blurry images at low levels of magnification. The development of student understanding is still so important regardless of how we use the technology in classes.

The video below captures the key moments from a lesson by Carolyn Stannard.