Curriculum Innovations—the Digital Microscope
New technology means new opportunities in the classroom. An example of this is the digital microscope (also known as a “USB microscope”). They are inexpensive, low powered optical microscopes with a digital image sensor at the focal point. The microscope connects to a computer, and the images can be viewed on the monitor. The cameras can take still or video images, or the computer can be connected to a projector, so a whole class can see the images in real time. They can be used in every class where a close-up look at something would be useful. For example, in my environmental science lab class at East LA, I’m going to see if we can observe changes in the ﬁber length in recycled paper versus regular paper. (We might have to recycle the paper ourselves several times to see a change!) I also plan to use the microscope in my geology class, when we’re looking at rocks.
The picture above shows the underside of a leaf (a philodendron houseplant). If I remember my biology, those round structures are the stoma (gas exchange pores) for the leaf.
--Randy Adsit, Geology, East LA College
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