Discovering the World of the Small

by Michael Porter
Fourth grade students got a surprising but rewarding experience in the science lab when they peered closely into a drop of water from the canal behind JCDS.
"I thought I would just see maybe, dirt," said 4th grader Lexi H.

What the students found was a world of microscopic plants and animals that they never suspected.
This was the third in a series of lessons involving microscopes and slide preparation. Students had previously examined their cheek epithelial cells, onion epidermal cells, and then moved into examining the living microorganisms from the water right behind the school. 
"It was so cool to see that from a tiny little pinch that you can get from a little pipette, there are living worms and creatures visible," said Evelyn T.
Science Specialist Deborah Landon procured the water samples herself. "I gathered water from the canal behind the school," she said. "Because I had never done this myself, it was definitely a journey of discovery for us all!"

This lesson turned out to be very exciting for both teachers and students.
"It was such a unique experience, I was glad to see that they appreciated even the tiniest of creatures!" said Ms. Landon.
Indeed, the students were very enthusiastic about this lab session.
"It was probably the most amazing thing you've ever seen through a microscope," remarked Caleb M. "To a scientist most things under a microscope might look a little creepy, but this experiment under the microscope was clearly out of this world!"
Clément C. added: "It was awesome! You could see microscopic things you can't see with your eyes. In the water of the pond, we saw worms inside of the water. It was surprising."

The students practiced lab skills like preparing slides and placing them properly into the microscopes. They had been using the microscopes for several weeks and are getting quite proficient at using the focus and positioning controls.
Some students figured out that if they carefully aligned the camera on their iPads with the eyepiece of the microscope, they were able to take photos of their discoveries. It was quite challenging to get the lenses aligned, but some students got some great photos and videos.
"I saw a lot of worms and a hydra -- which is a small animal," said Alexander D. "It looked really cool and you could see stuff you couldn't see with your own eyes."
One student wasn't quite as impressed.
"Kori was grossed out!" said Ms. Landon. "She said she'd never touch that water again!"