Making the Microscopic World BIG
Teaching a Biology class always requires the use of microscopes, and it is a difficult task for some students. So I begin to think of how something the students use everyday of their lives, could help with learning and understanding of microscopes, and the images that are seen. This led me to my research question: How will the use of smartphones make microscopic images available to all students, and how will that use impact their learning? I teach both first year Biology and Advanced Biology and Ecology classes. Each year it is the same struggle for understanding of use of microscopes and for understanding and identification of microscopic structures. I begin to think of the technology most all students have access to, and how I can use them to help in the classroom. I began to research smartphone microscope adapters which will allow the students to take pictures of their images. These images could be used in presentations, assessments where students had to identify structures, or videos could be made of the viewings of the microscopic images and used for many different purposes. Also, with the use of the portable microscopes, the students will be able to leave the classroom and engage in learning outside. The portable microscopes include two types: one to use with smartphones and one that does not require a smartphone. So all students will be able to be part of this learning experience. With this project, I envision students learning and identifying more than ever before! Many students still think the pointer inside the lens of the microscope is something important, and I want them to feel empowered to think, imagine, and be excited about their learning. Giving students the knowledge and tools will allow them to take ownership of their learning. Then they can go beyond the learning just for them, and share the learning with others. This can be done through presentations, videos created and narrated, learning blogs and updates on class webpage, and also posted on YouTube. The students will also create worksheets to use with their creations when younger classes use their work as a learning tool. Another wonderful thing about this type of innovation, is that it is sustainable. There will be no need to continue to purchase accessories or any other items to continue to use these for many years to come. When thinking about success of this innovation, I think of the outcomes that will be the increased use and knowledge of microscopes and images, the videos created from the images, the use of the videos in the other science classrooms and the number of views from the website and YouTube. This outcome will be measured with pre and post microscope assessments of the students in AP Biology and Ecology, the number of detailed images the students are able to create and photograph, the number of times the videos are used in other classes (along with worksheets students created to assist in the study), the number of views on YouTube and the number of hits on the website. I am very excited to see where this use of technology will lead my students and other students in their learning.